Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 5 October

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

Government and other pandemic-related funding

The National Emergencies Trust and Crowdfunder have launched a new £1.2m Local Action Fund to support community and voluntary organisations whose finances have been affected by the pandemic. The fund will match up to £10,000 for every successful charity or group that applies, using a crowdfunder to fundraise.


Consultation on vaccine certification scheme for events in England

The government has launched a call for evidence on mandatory Covid-19 vaccine certification for certain venues in England, accompanied by a policy proposal setting out details of the scheme. This scheme is part of the government’s Covid-19 contingency plan (known as Plan B) as first announced in its Autumn and Winter Plan 2021Under Plan B, the government could, at a week’s notice, introduce mandatory vaccine certification for visitors (and vaccine or test certification for the workforce) at venues that host large events (and nightclubs). The call for evidence seeks views on aspects of the proposal, including:

  • The list of venues and events that will be subject to the vaccine certification requirement and the details of any exemptions.
  • Whether staff working in those venues should be vaccinated, or be regularly tested.

The government is interested to hear from businesses, event organisers and venue operators, including from those that have experience of using certification on a voluntary basis over the summer. Responses must be submitted by 11 October 2021.


Covid checks and data protection

Ahead of the introduction of mandatory vaccination and Covid status checks in Scotland and Wales, the Information Commissioner’s Office has issued a reminder about relevant guidance on its website.  For example this guidance Looking after your customers’ personal data when completing vaccination and Covid status checks – Advice for nightclub businesses and organisers of large events.


Coronavirus – update to volunteering guidance

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has further updated its guidance for voluntary organisations and groups in England on how to safely and effectively involve volunteers in their work during the Covid-19 pandemic. This now takes account of the end of the shielding programme for those people considered to be clinically extremely vulnerable.


Coronavirus – action for debts

Since 1st October, a creditor can once again use a ‘statutory demand’ as a basis for serving a winding-up petition on a debtor company. This follows the temporary suspension of the measures after the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 (“CIGA”) came into force in June 2020. However, the new measures are only in place until 31 March 2022, and we will have to wait and see whether and how the landscape changes then. For more on this, see our briefing here


Covid inquiry

This press release, issued by Boris Johnson after he met representatives of Bereaved Families 4 Justice includes a commitment that the chair of the inquiry would be appointed by Christmas and welcomes the suggestion that the inquiry should hold hearings in different parts of the country.  For more background on the Covid inquiry, see our Briefing here


Brexit

The Department for International Trade and the Cabinet Office have launched a new hotline and online services to help UK businesses seeking to export to Europe. 


Charity Commission

Highlights from CC Annual Public Meeting

The full transcript of Helen Stephenson’s speech can be found here and a video recording of the meeting is available on YouTube here.  

Whistleblowing

The commission has published its latest disclosures on whistleblowing in 2020-2021.  It shows that there has been a 75% in the numbers of whistleblowing disclosures compared to the previous reporting period of 2019-2020 and that the primary issues raised were governance, safeguarding and financial management concerns.

Also see below under Role of Regulators.


Governance

ACEVO has published its 2021 Pay and Equalities Survey.  The headline summary is that the reports finds a risk of complacency on key governance issues.  On diversity, 43% of respondents stated that they planned to address ethnic diversity on their boards within the next year while just 25% of respondents were happy with the ethnic diversity of their boards. 

On 15th December, NPC is running a free trustee seminar onClosing down a service or programme well”.


Sector General

NCVO has launched the 2021 edition of the UK Civil Society Almanac.  See here for the Executive Summary. 


Climate change

On 17th November, NPC is running a free seminar exploring what trustees are and should be considering regarding their charities’ relationship to the environment, ways to embed climate-related issues into their work, and “how to elevate the importance of this issue to support a just and green recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Also see under Public procurement below.


Diversity and inclusion

See ACEVO report under Governance above, and see below under Culture and Creative.


Data protection

See above under Covid checks and data protection.


Fundraising

The Fundraising Regulator has published its Annual Complaints Report, covering the period from 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.  The types of fundraising reported by charities as generating most complaints were:

  • online fundraising – complaints tripled to 5,836, making it the most complained about method. 
  • addressed mail
  • corporate fundraising – with 2504 complaints (compared to 108 the previous year) but this increase was due to a particular charity corporate partnership receiving a lot of complaints

In relation to direct complaints to the Fundraising Regulator, charity bags remain the most complained about method of fundraising.  Lottery fundraising – was the ninth most complained about method.


Public procurement

All companies bidding for government contracts worth more than £5 million a year must now commit to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.  


Company law

See under Coronavirus section above.


Role of Regulators

The House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts has published a report, “Principles of effective regulation”.  The summary includes that:

  • UK regulators face significant challenges, risks and opportunities, such as taking on new roles previously carried out by European regulators and needing to adapt to changes such as rapid technological development, changing social attitudes and an increased focus on the climate emergency.
  • Regulators need to be able to adapt and act quickly to these new challenges.
  • More needs to be done to ensure that regulatory decisions are based on a good understanding of costs and benefits, and that regulators use data more effectively to assess risks and identify areas where they need to be more innovative while continuing to maintain regulatory standards.

Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (CCNI) has advised charities submitting their annual return for 2020 to continue using the online form, ignoring the incorrect year showing at the top – it will not affect the annual report submission.


Communities

Police and local authorities have successfully bid for a share of £23.5m funding to go towards projects aimed at improving the safety of public spaces, particularly for women and girls.


Support for families

The government has published new regulations and guidance that set out how councils should support domestic abuse victims and their children.

Funding will be provided to local councils in October 2021 to help vulnerable households with essentials such as food, clothing and utilities during winter.


Health

The Local Government Association has published its response to the government’s plan for health and adult social care, “Build Back Better”.


Social enterprise sector news

New pan-European initiative launched to make supply chains fairer and more sustainable. Social Enterprise UK explores how companies are opening up their supply chains to social enterprises in a push to contribute to an inclusive and sustainable post-Covid recovery.

Social enterprise is ‘proof of concept’ for tomorrow’s economy. Pioneers Post reports from the Social Enterprise World Forum 2021, on an interview with Doughnut Economics Action Lab’s business and enterprise lead, Erinch Sahan, about his view that social enterprises should see themselves as a real alternative to the current model for mainstream business.

This item may be of interest to anyone working on issues such as free journalism, and local journalism and democracy. Read all about it! Creating a social enterprise community newspaper. Social Spider CIC’s Managing Director shares the social enterprise’s work to publish a free monthly local newspaper and how similar local papers are succeeding throughout the UK.

FRC Lab seeks views on companies’ production of ESG data. The Financial Reporting Council’s Financial Reporting Lab has launched a project looking at how companies produce data on ESG issues. The current systems underpinning ESG disclosures pose challenges to companies and the project will consider companies’ production, distribution and consumption of ESG data. The Lab is seeking the participation of companies, investors, service and systems providers and other stakeholders, and asks them to contact the Lab by 15 November 2021. This might be of interest to some social enterprises willing to share their approach to impact measurement and reporting, to help inform the FRC’s work.


Social investment and social impact investing news

Applying an equality and equity lens to measuring social impact outcomes. Big Society Capital explains how it has updated the Outcomes Matrix, developed with Good Finance, to apply an equality and equity lens to measuring social impact outcomes.


Culture and creative

The Social Mobility Commission (SMC) has published a toolkit to help employers widen access to the creative industries for those with working class backgrounds.  The comprehensive toolkit, which runs to 87 pages, was developed by the SMC working with over 50 charities and employers within the creative industries sector. It provides two levels of guidance: one for organisations looking to develop the foundations for increasing socio-economic diversity, and another for organisations who want to optimise their approach.


Education

Examinations

  • Following a public consultation, the DfE and Ofqual announced adaptions for the 2022 summer exams (GCSE, A and AS level) to recognise the disruption to education and to ensure fairness for students.
  • The government’s firm intention is for exams to take place next year, with Teacher Assessed Grades as a contingency measure if pandemic changes mean that exams cannot go ahead. The DfE is consulting on the return of teacher-assessed grades here – the consultation closes on 13 October 2021. Schools Week summarises the details of the contingency measures here.
  • The DfE has published guidance for schools and colleges about the contingency arrangements for awarding vocational and technical qualifications and other general qualifications in summer 2022.
  • Ofqual has published guidance related to the National Reference Test taking place in 2022. The test results will be used to provide evidence about the impact of lost learning during the Covid-19 pandemic for school leaders, exam boards and policy-makers.
  • The Guardian reports proposals to bring back national testing (SATs) for 14-year olds are under consideration by ministers, before an education white paper next year.

Schools

  • To support governing boards in secondary schools with their responsibility to ensure that young people can make informed choices about their future, the National Governance Association has produced guidance in collaboration with the Careers and Enterprise Company.

Policy updates, consultations, and submissions

  • The National Association of Head Teachers, and the National Education Union have put forward a joint submission to the upcoming 2021 spending review, setting out the priorities that the government and the DfE must address.
  • Proposals to remove limits on teaching hours are reported to be under consideration by ministers, before an education white paper next year.
  • The Confederation of School Trusts has launched a consultation to “codify” the role and expectations of CEOs in trusts. The consultation, which closes on November 1, can be accessed here.
  • Pearson has published a policy report on workforce skills, focusing on post-16 education reforms to ensure that education courses meet employers’ needs.

News items

  • In a recent case, The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman held that Kingston upon Thames Council failed to provide suitable education to a looked after child for a 17-month period, including failing to assess any special education needs.


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 4, 2021.