Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 7 September

Our weekly round up of news and updates from across the sector.

Coronavirus – impact on the sector

NCVO has published the latest Respond, Recover, Reset Report for August 2021.  Here’s some of the headlines:

  • 66% of organisations expect Covid-19 to have a moderate or significant negative impact on delivering their objectives next year
  • 48% reported an increase in their range of services since the beginning of the pandemic
  • 61% expect an increase in demand for their services over the next month

Behind the headlines: NCVO found that 82% of the organisations in its sample reported using digital technology by their staff members to work or volunteer remotely with only 41% of these organisations using the digital technology before the pandemic. For some of the organisations, the move to digital working and service provision provided a unique opportunity to expand the reach of the services they offered. However, digital exclusion also had a huge impact on the sector during the pandemic, with organisations identifying several major challenges.

See here to take this month’s survey. 

Event:  16 September, 10am-11.30am, “Rethinking and rebuilding the charity sector post-pandemic”.   NPC will share the findings from the first phase of Rethink, Rebuild, and the five responses that it thinks will “create a more equitable and effective sector for the long-term”.

Coronavirus – general

The temporary relaxations in the entry criteria for a moratorium under the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 are due to expire on 30 September 2021.


Brexit

UK Shared Prosperity Fund – NCVO reports the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is currently leading work on developing the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which is expected to launch next year.

The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has updated its guidance to reflect that it will extend the period of time for which it will continue to accept CE product markings for manufactured goods placed on the market in Great Britain until 1 January 2023 (rather than 1 January 2022), in some circumstances.  A CE marking is a manufacturer’s claim that its product meets all the specified essential safety requirements set out in certain EU directives: from 1 January 2021, the UKCA, and not the CE marking, is the conformity assessment marking for goods placed on the market in Great Britain that were previously subject to the CE marking.


Charities Bill

We have published the final two briefings in our series about the changes being introduced by the Charities Bill:


Charity Commission

Annual Public Meeting

The commission has announced that it will hold its annual public meeting on Thursday 30 September at 2pm until 3.30pm. This year’s meeting is a virtual event open to all members of the public and charity representatives which will be broadcast live on the internet.

Blog – Helen Stephenson

Charity Commission CEO Helen Stephenson has posted a blog about charities’ experiences of the pandemic. This follows a series of roundtable discussions with leaders from small and medium size charities held by the commission.

Regulatory compliance cases

Following some media coverage about the charity, the commission has issued a statement saying that the regulator has recently been alerted to potential concerns about the governance of the Dot Com Children’s Foundation and that it has opened a regulatory compliance case to assess the information provided.

The commission has announced that it has concluded its regulatory compliance case into The Runnymede Trust. The regulator opened a case after receiving complaints about the charity’s activity, including its response to the report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (“the CRED report”) and whether it was engaging in lawful political activity. The commission also examined whether the trustees acted in line with their duties and responsibilities in making the decision to work with the Good Law Project to challenge certain public appointments. Following its assessment of the concerns raised, the commission says that it was within the charity’s purposes to engage with and take a position on the CRED report and has found no breach of its guidance. It has welcomed the trustees’ decision to strengthen the charity’s internal policies and procedures on political activity. The commission has also determined that the trustees did not breach their legal duties and responsibilities when they made the decision to work with the Good Law Project.

Inquiry reports

The Commission has published inquiry reports for:

  • Retreat Animal Rescue The commission concluded that there had been unauthorised trustee remuneration, an insufficient number of trustees for a period of time and a failure to manage conflicts of interest. The latter included the decision by two trustees to lease their own land to the charity and to use a £200,000 donation to the charity to pay off some of the loan secured on their personal property.  One trustee resigned and the commission issued an Official Warning to another. 
  • Alternative animal sanctuary The inquiry found that the total income raised from the charity’s arrangement with a fundraising agency from 2008 to 2020 was over £10 million. However, just £1.8 million was directly received by the charity, due to significantly high costs and fees of the agreement.   The Commission found that the trustees failure to exercise adequate oversight over the fundraising agreement amounted to misconduct and mismanagement. 

Tax and VAT

HMRC has published statistics on the value of tax reliefs to the creative industries tax reliefs for the year ending 31 March 2021.   


Accounting

A few weeks ago we flagged a consultation to develop the first internationally applicable financial reporting guidance for non-profit organisations (NPOs).  Charity Finance Group has published its response to the consultation and is encouraging charities to get involved in Part Two of the consultation, which considers technical aspects and non-profit specific financial reporting issues.  This part of the consultation closes on 24th September.


Governance

The Good Governance Institute has published this “In conversation with Lord Hastings and Emmanuel Ofosu-Appiah” about how diversity breeds diversity”


Climate change

The Environment Bill has been updated, including an amendment that reinforces the duty to set a legally-binding target to halt species decline by 2030.

A consultation is set to be opened in Autumn by the government on banning a range of single use and polluting plastics.

NPC has written about how the social sector and its funders need to play their part in tackling the climate crisis.


Data and data protection

Children’s Code

With the Children’s Code now fully in force, the ICO has published “As the Children’s code comes in – what’s next?”. For background on the Children’s Code, see here for Bates Wells’ briefing.

New data plans

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has announced that it is launching a package of post-Brexit global data plans to boost growth, increase trade and improve healthcare and public services. The package comprises:

  • New multi-billion pound global “data adequacy” partnerships, initially with six priority territories; the USA, Australia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, the Dubai International Finance Centre and Colombia.
  • A Mission Statement on the UK’s approach to international data transfers and adequacy assessments, along with the UK Manual Template, guidance and a UK data partnership map.
  • A new International Data Transfers Expert Council to support the UK in championing the international flow of data.
  • An enhanced role for the new Information Commissioner. Mr John Edwards (currently New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner), who has been announced as the government’s preferred nominee to succeed the current Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham OBE.
  • A consultation, soon to be launched, on the future UK data protection regime and ways in which to increase trade and innovation through the data regime.

International data transfers

In this article, Bates Wells Head of Privacy Victoria Hordern explores the changes set out in the ICO’s proposed International Data Transfer Agreement. 

Fines

The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined Glasgow-based company DialADeal Scotland Ltd (DDSL) £150,000 for making more than half a million nuisance marketing calls.

The Irish Data Protection Commission announced on 2 September its decision to fine WhatsApp €225 million, concluding its investigation which began in December 2018. The investigation examined whether WhatsApp had discharged its transparency obligations with regard to the provision of information and the transparency of that information to both users and non-users of WhatsApp’s service.

Data Accelerator Fund

The government has announced a new fund to support vulnerable children and families across England by improving how data is shared between local partners.  The £7.9 million Data Accelerator Fund, will see 10 councils work more closely with police forces, local NHS services and schools to share data to ensure children and families receive “the right help at the right time”.


Subsidy control

The European Commission has published a study on market trends in healthcare and social housing and EU state aid implications. Bates Wells’ Lindsay Draffan comments “It will no doubt be referred to by UK policy makers and possibly feed into the new UK regime’s various exemptions.” 


Pensions

According to this article in Civil Society Media, expected changes to regulation on funding defined benefits (DB) pension schemes will increase many charities’ pension costs.


Scotland

OSCR has posted a blog on its website: Charity reserves – can they help support you during the pandemic?

OSCR has written to the first charities identified through the Revitalising Trusts Project because they appear to be dormant or show evidence of very little activity over the past five years.

A recording of a recent SCVO event, which was called Social investment: why trustees need to think differently about strategy and risk, is now available to view on YouTube – details are on OSCR’s website. In addition, Alastair Davis, CEO of Social Investment Scotland, talks about the social investment fund and an events programme developed to support the sector in a blogpost from OSCR.

OSCR is running a free webinar on the subject Transparency and Trust for Scottish charity trustees and advisers on Wednesday 27 October at 1pm.


Northern Ireland

CCNI has published a list of organisations it hopes to call forward for charity registration in NI before early 2022. This aims to provide organisations with advance notice that they are likely to be called forward. 


Afghanistan

The UK will be releasing up to £30 million of aid to Afghanistan’s neighbouring countries via humanitarian partners to aid displaced citizens.


Armed forces charities

Armed forces veterans, including those who served in Afghanistan, are to benefit from additional mental health support backed by £2.7 million for Op COURAGE – the Veterans’ Mental Health and Wellbeing Service.

See this press release summarising a meeting between government, charities and academics to outline support available to former service personnel across the UK and to agree to share information and best practice on supporting veterans.


Health

See above under Subsidy control and Armed forces charities.

The government has announced a £9 million fund to help local authorities develop projects to improve air quality and knowledge about health risks.  

The government has welcomed new members to the voluntary community and social enterprise (VCSE) Health and Wellbeing Alliance. Members include Age UK, Barnardo’s, Homeless Link, Hospice UK, National Autistic Society, Samaritans, Tommy’s and British Red Cross.  

A new Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) will officially launch on 1 October with the aim of tackling health inequalities across the country. 


Social enterprise sector news

Record number of community interest companies amid rise of grant funds. Post Pioneers reports that the number of UK community interest companies grew by over a fifth last year, and analyses highlights from the CIC Regulator’s recent annual report.

In the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow, SCVO and SENScot have published a joint report, Third Sector and Net Zero, on the climate ambitions of Scotland’s social sector. The report concludes that, while there is some work being undertaken, the data indicates a real disconnect between the wider sector and the climate change agenda. Pioneers Post provides commentary on the report.

Co-op Policy Blog #23: Breakthrough in Scotland. Co-operatives UK reports that the Scottish government is now committed to supporting co-ops in its policy programme, providing an opportunity to unlock the sector’s potential.


Social investment and social impact investing news

See above under Scotland.

The case for investing in women is clear. Why is venture capital still ignoring them? As the world seeks solutions for post-pandemic recovery, Pioneers Post considers the consequences for investment into female-founded enterprises and encourages investors to back female-led businesses as a ticket to prosperity for everyone. Authored by Tove Ahlström, CEO at think-tank Global Utmaning and Sofia Breitholtz, CEO at Reach for Change.

Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, Social Investment Business, and Power to Change, have commissioned a report, Minoritised Ethnic Community and Social Enterprises, to understand how well they are supporting organisations from minoritised ethnic communities. The findings show that the social investment organisations need to do more, and they have set out their commitments, which include making changes to funding programmes. Civil Society Media and Social Investment Business provide commentary on the report and the organisations’ new commitments.

A new framework for understanding why organisations take on social investment. Aiming to understand how investees are adapting to the changing environment and what other support they may need, Big Society Capital is developing a standardised framework (‘taxonomy’) to categorise the reasons organisations take on investment and what they intend to achieve with it.


Police, crime, sentencing and courts bill

NCVO has flagged that a group of civil society organisations have opposed provisions in this Bill, including restrictions on the right to protest, and measures targeting gypsy and traveller communities. Ahead of the second reading, Liberty, Bond, Friends Families and Travellers, Quakers in Britain and Friends of the Earth are coordinating a joint open letter to the Home Secretary and Justice Secretary.  Other organisations can join in signing the letter up until 31 August.


Education

Updated guidance

  • The DfE has published the updated Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) Framework for 2021. The new statutory framework applies from 1 September 2021. The government says the changes will improve outcomes for all children, but particularly the language and literacy outcomes for disadvantaged children and reduce teacher workload. 

  • The DfE has published an explanatory note to the Coronavirus Act 2020 Provision of Remote Education (England) Temporary Continuity (No.2) Direction. The Direction applies from the start of the academic year 2021 to 2022. It extends the legal requirement on schools to provide remote education for state-funded pupils when they cannot attend school due to Covid-19.

  • The DfE updated its Schools Covid-19 Operational Guidance, the guidance on what schools will need to do during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • The DfE published updated guidance ‘keeping children safe in education’ which is the statutory guidance for schools and colleges on safeguarding children and safer recruitment.

  • The updated School Admissions Code came into force on 1 September 2021 which is the statutory guidance that schools must follow when carrying out duties relating to school admissions.

Consultations

  • The DfE has published an open consultation on 25 August 2021 seeking views on proposed revisions to the current version of the Teacher Misconduct guidance. The proposed revisions are intended to provide clarification on the factors relating to decisions leading to the prohibition of teachers from the teaching profession. The consultation will close on 19 October 2021.

News items

  • The Government is providing funding for training to help two to four year-olds with language and mathematic skills, as part of early years recovery investment.
  • The DfE has announced that £50 million will be invested in colleges, schools and sixth forms delivering T levels across England from 2022 to improve and expand teaching spaces and facilities. T Levels – co-created with over 250 employers including Fujitsu and Amazon – are equivalent to three A levels and combine classroom study with industry placements.

  • Delivered by the Office for Students, universities and further education colleges have been invited to bid for a share of £2million to create new ‘short courses’ across five important subject areas; STEM, healthcare, digital innovation, education, and supporting Net Zero. The plans aim to put an end to the perception that traditional three and four-year degree courses are the only route for those who want to pursue further education or training. The first short courses will be available from September 2022.

  • FE Week reports that the DfE is planning to evaluate the impact of the 16-19 Covid tuition fund, the subsidised tuition scheme for 16-to-19-year-olds – after almost a quarter of eligible providers opted out of the fund in its first year. The DfE has also announced it is investing in a major expansion of the National Tutoring Programme which is expected to reach up to six million pupils across the country over the next three years so students can recover the teaching hours lost in the last year via tutoring.
  • The DfE has announced two new projects to provide targeted support for vulnerable young people at risk of serious violence or gang exploitation. The Alternative Provision Specialist Taskforces will aim to keep pupils in Alternative Provision. The SAFE Taskforces will deliver targeted interventions to reduce truancy, improve behaviours, and reduce the risk of individuals failing to enter education, employment or training (NEET).

Housing

Homes England has announced its 31 new strategic partners that will deliver grant-funded affordable homes over the next five years.


Upcoming Webinars…

Employment Law Update, September 15 3pm-4pm

Our next bi-monthly employment update webinar, which helps you keep up with employment law developments which directly impact on your organisation.


This information is necessarily of a general nature and doesn’t constitute legal advice. This is not a substitute for formal legal advice, given in the context of full information under an engagement with Bates Wells.

All content on this page is correct as of September 7, 2021.