Coronavirus – government funding
An impact report has been published that details how the government’s £6.5 million Covid-19 support fund has helped communities across the UK. The new Minister for Civil Society hailed small charities as ‘the backbone of our communities’.
The Good Law Project has this petition which asks Nadine Dorries to ensure the appointment process for a new Chair of the Charity Commission is not politicised.
The commission has published in inquiry report into Human Aid UK. There had been previous regulatory engagement with the charity, with the commission issuing an inquiry report in 2017.This inquiry looked at whether the trustees had fulfilled their duties and had adhered to policies and procedures, particularly regarding monitoring and verification of overseas expenditure. The police seized over £9,000 in cash found in possession of the Director of Operations and two volunteers at Heathrow Airport. The individuals told the Police that the funds were to be used by the charity in Gaza, but couldn’t provide a clear explanation as to how the funds were to be transferred or to whom. The commission made orders restricting the trustees from transferring or applying funds outside of the UK without prior authorisation from the commission.
Following an application from Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, the Company Names Tribunal has ordered a company using the name “Imperial College London of Education and Training Ltd” to change its name.
Tax and VAT
In a case that could be useful in determining what “philanthropic” organisations are caught by the Charities Act 1992 regime, the First-tier Tax Tribunal has found that membership fees paid by Freemasons to the United Grand Lodge of England were not VAT exempt because one of that body’s main aims was not of a ‘philosophical, philanthropic or civic nature’ within the meaning of the exemption in Group 9, Item 1(e) of Schedule 9 of VATA 1994. The Freemasons were unsuccessful in a similar case in 2013 but had tried again because their activities changed to become more involved in charitable work. The Tribunal found however that their main aims were the provision of support to Freemasons and their dependants in distress, and this was not a philanthropic aim for the purposes of the exemption.
NCVO has announced it is launching a formal partnership programme with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to collaborate on shared priorities.
The Chancery Lane Project (TCLP) has published a net zero toolkit to help lawyers amend their contracts to meet net zero goals. The toolkit includes 20 newly drafted clauses and 24 of TCLP’s existing clauses have also been re-drafted to become ‘high ambition’ clauses that are aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The new clauses include:
- model articles that set a framework of green obligations for company decision making (Ragnar’s clause);
- a template board paper promoting consideration of climate impact of a significant contract/transaction (Griff’s Clause);
- a template board paper implementing net zero for small and medium sized enterprises that builds net zero objectives and targets into corporate strategy (Lila’s Clause); and
- a new due diligence questionnaire (Raphael’s Procurement DDQ) asks potential suppliers to provide information of a wide range of climate-related issues.
Diversity and inclusion
Reach Volunteering has published a report on board diversity, concluding that “the candidates are there, the problem is how charities recruit”. Civil Society Media summarises the report’s content and conclusions here.
The Governance Apprenticeship Programme has been launched to train a more diverse group of potential board members for Higher Education Institutions.
Data protection reform
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published its response to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media, and Sport’s consultation on the future of data protection in the UK, “Data: a new direction”. The ICO is broadly supportive of many of the proposals but raises concerns, makes suggestions and seeks further detail from and engagement with the government and stakeholders.
A government procurement update has confirmed the following:
- Green Paper consultation response – There were over 600 respondents to the Transforming Public Procurement Green Paper. Analysis of the responses showed the proposed measures were broadly welcomed, with support for the key reforms including the proposed new principles for public procurement and the consolidation of the existing regulations and procedures. Contracting authorities were supportive of a more flexible approach and recognised the benefits to be gained. There are several areas where government’s thinking has moved on as a result of feedback received and it plans to publish, in the coming weeks, a summary of responses received and details of what the Government intends to do, in light of the consultation exercise.
- Draft Bill Government’s focus is now on preparing legislation for Parliament. Cabinet Office are working closely with health colleagues on the procurement aspects of the Health and Social Care Bill, and with local government on those elements of reform which particularly impact that sector. The Procurement Bill will be introduced when Parliamentary time allows and it will take several months to complete its passage through Parliament. Following that, there will need to be secondary legislation (regulations) made. Given the timescales around the legislative process, the new regime could not come into force until 2023 at the earliest.
See under Charity names above.
OSCR has published a review of its November survey that asked charities about the impact of Covid-19 on their operations and impact.
Housing and homelessness
A £16 million government fund will go towards projects supporting people experiencing homelessness after being discharged from hospital.
Social enterprise sector news
Winning the social enterprise vote. Social Enterprise UK uses survey data to reflect on how social enterprises in the UK think the political parties are supporting the sector.
Social investment and social impact investing news
£4m Investment Boost to Fuel Growth in New Lending. Charity Bank will be able to make more than £32m in new loans following £4m in new equity investments from six new investors, as well as an approved investment from its existing shareholder, Big Society Capital. Social Enterprise Mark provides commentary on the announcement.
‘Impact dollars must prioritise gender’ – former Australian PM. Pioneers Post reports on comments made during a panel discussion at the GSG Global Impact Summit, on how gender should be “kept at the forefront” of impact investing decisions, following this impact aspect having been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.
Seb Elsworth: Foundations and social investors can collaborate to grow resilience in the sector. Chief Executive of the Access Foundation looks at how social enterprises and charities have succeeded during the pandemic and the importance of collaborating to build resilience and grow a common understanding of what it looks like. The article draws on CAF’s recent report on ‘Creating Resilience – How funders can help strengthen small charities’.
Level up now by boosting black-led, female-led and regional businesses – MPs back proposals. Responsible Finance has submitted a proposal to HM Treasury to increase the “supply of finance to the most financially excluded group of SMEs” through CDFIs.
See above under Diversity and Inclusion.
Legislative and policy updates
- The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will enter its report stage in the House of Lords on 12 October. FE Week summarises some of the suggested amendments to the Bill here, including that sixth-form colleges with a religious faith designation can become a 16 to 19 academy. The DfE also announced that services offering to provide students with essays for money are to be criminalised under the Bill.
- The Education Secretary spoke at the National Association of Head Teachers Conference (see full transcript of his speech here) on some of the government’s aims and commitments, including plans for a new Schools White Paper. He discussed ending illiteracy and innumeracy, identifying the root cause of pupil absenteeism and stated that “perhaps one of the most crucial commitments” is doing more for vulnerable children.
The DfE has:
- Announced that teachers in the early years of their careers will be eligible for salary boosts of up to £3,000 tax-free to teach maths, physics, chemistry and computing, with the aim that this will support recruitment and retention of specialist teachers in these subjects and in the schools and areas that need them most.
- Produced updated guidance for children’s social care services, following the end of the Adoption and Children (Coronavirus)(Amendment) Regulations 2020. Among other things, the Regulations provided flexible arrangements including the continued suspension of the minimum frequency of Ofsted inspections.
- Practical Law has published a response to the question “Can schools enforce the wearing of face masks by pupils?” – see here.
- The Education and Skills Funding Agency has published a reminder for eligible institutions to complete the 16 to 19 tuition fund form, with the deadline for submission being 12 October 2021. The fund provides additional funding for eligible schools, colleges and other 16 to 19 providers to help with the disruption to learning caused by Covid-19.
- Schools Week reports that the Education Secretary has said he won’t set an “arbitrary” deadline or timeline for structural change to the school system, and refused to be drawn about whether remaining maintained schools will be forced to convert to academy status.
Further and higher education, and apprenticeships
- The Office for Students (OfS) has published a report – Assessment practices in English higher education providers: Spelling, punctuation and grammar – which argues that students at universities and colleges should be assessed on spelling, punctuation and grammar in order to maintain quality and protect standards.
- FE Week reports that the Chancellor has extended cash incentives for hiring new apprentices as well as his flagship Kickstart scheme as part of a £500 million jobs support package.
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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 October 11, 2021.