Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 2 November

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

Coronavirus – proof of medical exemption from vaccination

The Department of Health and Social Care has published Guidance: Covid-19 medical exemptions: proving you are unable to get vaccinated.

Coronavirus – impact on the sector

At an event on Wednesday 17th November, NCVO will present new analysis from the Third Sector Research Centre and the University of Stirling that shows how the level of financial vulnerability experienced by charities has changed as a result of pandemic. In particular, it will focus on the scale of the financial disruption caused by the pandemic and the extent to which certain types of organisations are more likely than others to have experienced financial disruption.  For more details and to book a place, see here

Budget and Autumn spending review

The 2021 Autumn Budget statement has been released, with some key announcements for charities being:

  • No changes made to the existing business rate reliefs for charities (although some aspects will be reformed, and the reliefs will be kept under review);
  • An increase of £1.5m to the Charity Commission’s budget;
  • £2.6bn for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund;
  • £850m in spending to protect museums, galleries, libraries and local culture in England, as well as an extension of tax reliefs for cultural organisations; and
  • £700m for sports facilities and youth clubs and funding for 21 projects as part of the Community Ownership Fund.

For further details, see this HM Treasury summary page “What you need to know about the Budget”, covering the various measures outlined in the recent Budget and Spending review.

And for commentary from various sector groups see:

Also see below under Education.


DCMS has updated its guidance “Exporting or importing objects of cultural interestto reflect the revocation of EU Regulation 2019/880 from UK law.

The Cabinet Office has responded to a consultation on how government should engage with businesses and civil society groups about the implementation of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA).  Government is inviting civil society and business organisations to apply to join a domestic advisory group (DAG) and a civil society forum (CSF) discussing the TCA – the deadline for applications is 9 November. 

Charity Commission

Trustees’ Week

It is Trustees’ Week, with over 60 events taking place and a theme for this year of “encouraging different perspectives”.  You can read more about the week in Helen Stephenson’s blogpost here.

New CC Chair

NCVO has worked alongside ACEVO to put together this checklist for the New Charity Commission Chair yet to be announced by the Government.

CC funding

See above under Budget and Autumn spending review.

Coronavirus guidance update

The commission’s coronavirus guidance has been updated to say that the temporary provisions put in place to allow charities to request additional time to file annual returns have been removed.  Charities must now return to submitting their annual returns within 10 months of their financial year end without the possibility of extending the deadline.  Other provisions that allowed charities to continue trading to help them avoid insolvency have also come to an end.

Annual return guidance

The commission’s guidance on filing annual returns has also been updated to say that the temporary provisions put in place to allow charities to request additional time to file annual returns have been removed. 

Research into impact of Covid-19 on charities

The Charity Commission has released the results of independent research into the impact of Covid-19 on charities during 2021.  The commission has published a blogpost commenting on the main findings.  Some of the headline points are:

  • Over 90% of charities said that they have experienced some negative impact from Covid-19, whether on their service delivery, finances, staff, or staff morale
  • 60% saw a loss of income
  • 32% said they experienced a shortage of volunteers.
  • The commission says it is perhaps surprising that it has not seen a significant number of charities fold since March 2021.
  • Last year, 97 charities reported that they were insolvent, as part of their annual return to the commission. That is up by a third on the previous year.
  • Overall, the number of charities closing did not vary significantly compared to the previous year.

Tax and VAT

The Health and Social Care Levy Act has received Royal Assent.  From 6 April 2022, it increases the rates of class 1 (employee and employer), class 1A and 1B (employer), and class 4 (self-employed) National Insurance contributions (NICs) by 1.25%.

Advertising via social media

Charity Tax Group will shortly be reconvening a meeting of charities interested in funding and supporting litigation to challenge HMRC’s VAT treatment of advertising via social media. For further info, contact [email protected]

Tax and net-zero

The Institute for Government has published a report “Net zero and the tax system” setting out a number of steps the Treasury can take to use the tax system to support businesses and households to make the transition to net zero.


To mark Trustee’s Week, we are highlighting our recent “Trustees in the spotlight” update. 

NCVO reports Reach Volunteering has analysed the age, gender and ethnicity of the applicants and appointments made through their trustee recruitment service from 2017 through to 2020. The findings are described as “both encouraging and concerning”.  They’ve found that open recruitment has a significant impact on the diversity of appointments. The gender balance for Reach’s appointments almost achieved parity in 2020.

  • The numbers of under 35-year-olds being appointed was around 19% against 1% of the whole trustee population.
  • The proportion of Reach’s appointees who didn’t identify as white was 16%.

When exploring candidate success’ rates (the chances of applicants being appointed) the figures are quite stark:

  • The 55 – 64 age group are 80% more likely to be appointed than the 18 – 34 age group.
  • White applicants are almost twice as likely to be appointed as Black and Asian applicants.

Climate change

See under Tax and VAT above.

As you’ll have read in the news, the Government has published the following to coincide with COP 26:

The Royal Town Planning Institute and the Town and Country Planning Association have published The Climate Crisis: a guide for local authorities on planning for climate change.

The UN Human Rights Council has passed resolution 48/13, which recognises that having a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right.

Diversity and inclusion

See under Governance above.

Data protection / FOIA

Fine for Scottish charity

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined a Scottish charity £10,000 after email addresses (including names) were visible to all 105 recipients of an email to patient advocates representing people living in Scotland with HIV.  From the personal data disclosed, an assumption could be made about individuals’ HIV status or risk.  An ICO investigation of the February 2020 incident found shortcomings in the charity’s email procedures. These included inadequate staff training, incorrect methods of sending bulk emails by blind carbon copy (bcc) and an inadequate data protection policy.  It also found that despite the charity’s own recognition of the risks in its email distribution and the procurement of a system which enables bulk messages to be sent more securely, it was continuing to use the less secure bcc method seven months later.

Children’s Code

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a call for evidence on age assurance in the context of applying the age appropriate design code (Children’s Code). The ICO has also issued an opinion on age assurance for the Children’s Code, aimed at ISS providers and providers of age assurance products, services and applications. It outlines a risk-based approach for organisations to apply context appropriate age assurance measures. The opinion will be reviewed in September 2022 as part of an overall review of the Children’s Code.  The opinion covers areas such as different methods of age assurance (verification, estimation, account confirmation and self-declaration) and the ICO’s expectations when applying the Children’s Code and when applying the data protection principles. It also includes an age assurance flow chart and examples of current usage and of economic impact.


OSCR has published new research into Scottish charities in 2021, providing an overview of the current state of the country’s charity sector.

OSCR is also promoting trustees’ week and is involved in a number of the events for trustees in Scotland.

Northern Ireland

CCNI has published the latest list of organisations that will be called forward to register as charities with the commission.

Children’s care services

The Competition and Markets Authority has published its interim findings in its market study into children’s social care provision in England, Wales and Scotland. The interim report sets out the CMA’s emerging concerns that there are insufficient placements of the right type, in the right places, to ensure that children consistently have access to placements that are appropriate to their needs; and that prices for placements are above what it would expect to see in a well-functioning market. The CMA is also concerned that high and increasing debt levels among independent providers may be leading to an increased risk of unexpected disorderly exit from the market, with negative impacts on children and local authorities. The deadline for responses to the interim findings is 12 November 2021. The deadline for the final report is 11 March 2022.

Housing and homelessness

A £65 million fund will help councils in England support vulnerable renters at risk of homelessness due to the impact of Covid-19.  An additional fund has also been announced to support those already homeless, which will provide warm accommodation as well as counselling, rehab and detox services.

NICE has published new draft guidelines to help reduce health inequalities in people experiencing homelessness. 

Social enterprise sector news

What have we learned about social enterprise, trading, and profit? Civil Society Media’s ‘Charity Finance’ publication provides commentary on SEUK’s latest State of Social Enterprise report released earlier in the month, No Going Back, and reviews the current health of the social enterprise sector. Charity Finance also provides more general commentary on SEUK’s report here.

Sharing our EDI journey to bring long-lasting change. Amir Rizwan, Relationships Director and Diversity Champion at Big Society Capital (“BSC”), shares BSC’s EDI plan, which rests on three focus areas – People and Culture, Engagement and Market Building, and Investment and Portfolio.

BAME social entrepreneurs are booming but struggle for funding. Big Issue Invest reports on new research showing that people from a “BAME” background are more than twice as likely to start a social enterprise and, alongside UnLtd, proposes a new growth impact fund for “historically underfunded” entrepreneurs.

Activating for a more financially inclusive world. Social Enterprise Mark considers the barriers to business finance for both women-led and BAME-led businesses, and how to provide finance for a more diverse range of entrepreneurs. The blog also refers to a further breakdown of figures from unpublished survey data, around access to finance by ethnicity and gender, provided by SEUK.

UK co-ops call on government to demand more of business on climate action. In a joint declaration backed by leading co-op retailers, the co-operative sector calls for governments, businesses, communities and individuals to take effective action to avert a climate catastrophe, with a particular emphasis on the role of businesses large and small. Co-operatives UK has also published research into the climate activity of co-ops in the UK and what support is needed.

Social investment and social impact investing news

Impact 101: What is gender-lens investing? Suzanne Biegel, co-founder of GenderSmart, breaks down the terminology of gender-lens investing for Pioneers Post.

‘Something’s wrong’ with impact investing, warns Cathy Clark. Speaking at the SOCAP 2021 conference for impact investors, Cathy Clark, faculty director at the Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship at Duke University, explained why the sector must have higher expectations of impact investing if it is to work.

Strategic alignment can be risky – but ‘impact integrity’ is possible. Pioneers Post and EVPA consider how corporate social investors – such as corporate foundations, impact funds and social businesses – can align their missions to create positive impact on society.

Social investment growth ‘accelerated’ during pandemic, Big Society Capital says. Using data released by BSC, Civil Society Media’s Charity Finance publication considers the growth of the UK social investment market.

Social Investment Business (SIB) has launched a new Recovery Loan Fund with founding investor the Fusion21 Foundation, to offer repayable and flexible finance under the terms of the British Business Bank Recovery Loan Scheme, to support UK charities and social enterprises in the post-Covid recovery. Civil Society Media comments on the announcement.

Big Issue Invest has announced eight social ventures chosen to receive support from their Power Up Scotland scheme.

Culture and creative

See above under Budget and Autumn spending review and Brexit.


See above under Budget and Autumn spending review.


Vision for Volunteering is a collaboration between NAVCA, Volunteering Matters, the Association of Volunteer Managers, Sport England and NCVO, aiming to create a long-term plan for volunteering in England.   Plans so far include: 

Anyone interested can sign up on the Vision for Volunteering website to be notified of future developments.


Government budget update

  • The Chancellor delivered his budget speech in Parliament, committing £4.7bn extra school funding and £1.8bn more catch-up funding, with funding per pupil to be restored to 2010 levels. The Chancellor promised to lift the pay freeze for school staff and committed to new SEND funding. See the DfE announcement here. Schools Week considers what schools need to know about the announcement, and FE Week considers what the Chancellor announced for further education and skills.


  • The DfE:
  • Published guidance (see here and here) on the six reformed national professional qualifications (NPQs) for teachers and school leaders from autumn 2021 and two NPQs from autumn 2022.
  • Launched a consultation on plans to scrap the school improvement monitoring and brokering grant which is set aside for school improvement activities. Instead, the plan would be for councils to fund all of their school improvement activity by taking a slice of funding directly from school budgets. The consultation closes on 26 November 2021.
  • Released the latest report from its research project assessing the learning loss experienced by pupils during Covid-19. The report concluded that periods of partial school closure “created and exacerbated learning losses in both reading and mathematics” which were “partially counterbalanced” by periods where schools fully re-opened for in-person learning.
  • Published responses to the latest Covid-19 school snapshot panel survey, conducted in July this year. Among other key findings, the results show that four in ten schools don’t expect to use the government’s National Tutoring Programme this year.
  • Published guidance for providers managing and participants taking part in educational and study placements overseas, including the Turing Scheme, Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps placements. The guidance includes information on what individuals will need to do during a COVID-19 outbreak when planning education and work placements abroad.
  • TES reports that the government has said that schools should not teach contested views about “white privilege” and that the DfE is planning to develop new guidance to help schools “meet their duties” while teaching about complex political issues. The government has published its response to a report from the Education Select Committee which claimed that terminology such as “white privilege” may have contributed towards a “systemic neglect” of white working-class pupils.
  • The schools minister confirms that the DfE is preparing a new model history curriculum, which will focus on diversity as an ‘important aspect’ and will equip teachers and leaders to teach migration, cultural change and the contributions made by different communities to science, art, culture and society.

Further and Higher education

  • The Office for Students (OfS) has launched a consultation on additional funding for world-leading specialist providers of higher education from the 2022/23 academic year. The consultation closes on 1 December.
  • The All-Party Parliamentary Group for Youth Employment have launched an inquiry following the DfE’s proposal to streamline post-16 qualifications by removing funding for some vocational and technical qualifications, including BTECs (it is proposed that T Levels, Apprenticeships and A Levels will be the main options for post-16 qualifications).
  • FE Week reports that The Skills and Post-16 Education Bill has completed its “report stage” in the House of Lords. Government amendments to outlaw essay mills and allow for the conversion of 16-to-19 sixth-forms with religious character to academies were passed without opposition. The Bill will now begin its journey through the House of Commons.
  • FE Week reports that financial incentives are being considered as a way to encourage universities to run degree apprenticeships, according to the further and higher education minister.

Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND)

  • The National Association of Head Teachers provides an update on SEND news over the past month, including that we await a publication date for the DfE’s long-awaited SEND review.
  • In the first intervention of its kind, Schools Week reports that the government is sending a DfE commissioner to take over SEND services in Birmingham, after the city council failed to remedy “significant weaknesses”. The local authority was issued with a statutory direction after a second local area SEND inspection from Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission.

Upcoming events

Our annual charity conference is back, live streaming online on 22nd Nov!

Join us for Spotlight – an afternoon of legal updates, leading sector speakers and topical debate. The programme so far includes Tristram Hunt (V&A) and David Farnsworth (City Bridge Trust) taking us through the positives from the pandemic; and Tessy Ojo (Diana Award), Halima Begum (Runnymede Trust) and Dr Marie Kawthar Daouda in a panel debate examining the “culture war” and its far-reaching impact on the sector; as well as legal updates on crisis management, fraud, charity and employment law.  Click here to book your virtual place

The Menopause: A Practical Guide to Employment Law Considerations for HR Professionals
10 November, 11:00am

Join us for an essential guide to this developing area of employment law, as the impact the menopause can have on people’s professional lives is gaining awareness. 

Employment Update Webinar
November 18, 3pm

Our bi-monthly Employment Update webinar provides practical commentary on case law and legislation developments and will leave you with a host of tips and ideas to help you add value to your role.

Charities and social media webinar
25 November, 11am

This extended webinar will pull together expertise from Bates Wells’ charity, intellectual property, and dispute resolution teams. We will deal with different kinds of legal issues arising from your charity’s engagement with social media.

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 November 1, 2021.