Bates Wells Briefing for Charities & Social Enterprises | 9 November

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

Charity Commission

Inquiry report

The commission has published an inquiry report into Manor Building Preservation Trust.  The commission opened a statutory inquiry after allegations of unauthorised trustee remuneration, private benefit arising from the purchase of cars valued at £80,000-£100,000 and the rent-free occupation of a charity owned property. Eviction proceedings were taken to remove the trustees from the charity owned property and the commission removed the three related trustees from acting as the charity’s trustees. 


Governance

See under Northern Ireland below.


Sector General

The Civil Society Group has officially launched to improve collaboration within the sector and streamline engagement with governments.  There is a strategic oversight group involving 16 organisations and three sub-groups focused on the main objectives of the collaboration: influencing, policy development and sharing information. 


Funding and funders

The government’s Levelling Up fund will be put towards different projects across the UK with a focus on locally led, innovative schemes that will help develop communities and deliver on net zero commitments.

As part of a new £6 million ‘Trees Call to Action Fund’, environmental charities, not-for-profits, local authorities and protected landscape bodies can apply for grants of up to £500,000 to go towards projects and partnerships aimed at improving people’s access to nature and increasing woodland cover.

Civil Society Media reports the research consultancy Giving Evidence has started a new project looking at ways to reduce the money that charities and non-profit organisations spend on funding applications. 

NPC Ignites 2021, there was a panel discussion on what the growing links between the environment and human health mean for funders. The session explored how funders can better understand and address the environmental determinates of health. See here to Watch the event recording.


Climate change

A new 1.5°C Supplier Engagement Guide contains practical guidance to help businesses reduce their supply chain emissions. The 1.5°C Supply Chain Leaders initiative is a group of businesses committed to halving greenhouse gas emissions across their supply chain by 2030 in order to help reach net zero by 2050.

The guide, which is free to access and use, encourages other businesses to cut their supply chain emissions and share the goal of halving these by 2030. Businesses can access best practice examples and templates for how to do this, such as by making management commitments, undertaking supply chain mapping, introducing green procurement standards, engaging with suppliers, reporting on suppliers’ progress and introducing supplier incentives. For example, BT Group and Ericsson have both shared letters they use that set out climate-related expectations and Ericsson has also shared its supplier code of conduct. In addition, the guide is interactive, to encourage businesses using it to upload and share any of their own examples and best practice tips.

Also see below under Philanthropy and Education.


Freedom of information

The Information Commissioner’s Office has updated its FOI guidance on official information held in private communication channels. It now explicitly covers not just private emails, but clarifies that conversations over WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger or other private channels have also always been covered by FOI when they are used for official business.  The UK Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, has authored an article on this topic here


Philanthropy

Individual philanthropists are being encouraged to sign up to a Donors for Climate pledge which includes:

  • Committing resources to accelerate work that addresses the root causes of climate change or adaptation to its impacts.
  • When making investment decisions or donations to other charitable causes, seeking ways to encourage those organisations to consider how they can contribute to a fair and lasting transition to a net zero world.
  • Aligning their investment strategy with “a rapid and just transition to a net zero economy”.

Public procurement

From 1 January 2022 financial thresholds in the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 (SI 2015/102) will be increased to:

• £5,336,937 for a public works contract.
• £138,760 for public supply contracts and public service contracts awarded by central government authorities, and their design contests.
• £213,477 for public supply contracts and public service contracts awarded by sub-central contracting authorities, and their design contests.

The estimated value of procurements will also be inclusive of VAT, instead of net of VAT.  Bates Wells Associate Suhan Rajkumar comments “Although the thresholds have increased, they reflect a real terms reduction, because they are now inclusive of VAT rather than net of VAT. This means that contracting authorities should, from 1 January 2021, factor in VAT (where applicable), when assessing what procurement route will apply. We recommend that contracting authorities update their internal guidance to avoid being caught out by this shift.”


Scotland

OSCR has announced that it is likely that charities which are unincorporated associations or trusts that manage land and buildings will need to be entered in a new register, the Register of Persons Holding Controlled Interest in Land, launching on 1 April 2022. Webinars are being held where you can find out more information on who needs to register.


Northern Ireland

A revised Code of Good Governance for the voluntary and community sector in NI has been launched.  It isn’t available online yet but is due to be available in booklet form and online later this month.


Health and social care

The Department of Health and Social Care has published Adult social care: Covid-19 winter plan 2021 to 2022, setting out the key elements of national support for the social care sector for winter 2021 to 2022, as well as the principal actions for local authorities, NHS organisations and social care providers.  The DHSC has also published the independent review of the 2020 to 2021 winter plan and subsequent actions


Children’s services

Children’s Minister, Will Quince, has announced the launch of a £12 million fund to support around 12 local authorities in England to open family hubs, enabling families with children to get help and support (for example from education settings). See the full speech here.


Social investment and social impact investing news

BSC Deal Level Data 2020: How does the Growth Fund compare? Following Big Society Capital’s publication if its Deal Level Data and broader Market Data to December 2020, earlier this month, Access – the Foundation for Social Investment provides commentary on the social impact investment market’s progress and how the Growth Fund compares with the rest of the market.

Big Society Capital has published a Quadrennial Review Progress Update, providing an overview of its progress against commitments made in response to the Quadrennial Review in August 2020, under the three broad themes of Mission, Culture and Investment. Big Society Capital CEO, Stephen Muers comments on this progress update.

Building Back Greener: How Two Community Organisations Used Social Investment to Help The Planet. Hannah Roberts, Marketing Officer at Locality, a network that supports community organisations, writes for Good Finance, interviewing two community organisations on how social investment helped to finance their environmental work.


COP26

UK development finance institution and impact investor, CDC Group is to invest over £3bn over five years in support of emerging economies in Africa and Asia to combat the climate emergency, as part of COP26 commitments and contributing to the Government’s ‘Clean Green Initiative’, which aims to help developing countries take advantage of green technology and create sustainable economic growth. Pioneers Post provides commentary on CDC Group’s plans.

COP26: BlackRock announces $673m climate fund as Fink urges ‘fair and just transition’. Pioneers Post reports on BlackRock’s investment into the Climate Finance Partnership, a new infrastructure fund to finance projects tackling climate change in emerging markets, backed by government-owned development banks from France, Germany and Japan.


International development

The Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI) has updated its charity sector guidance in response to Afghanistan’s Taliban takeover in August 2021 which has created a complex situation where people subject to financial sanctions (designated persons) in the UK now claim to be in positions of authority.  


Education

Schools

Governance

  • The DfE published its latest school governance update, relating to governance in maintained schools and academy trusts in England.
  • More than 60 new national leaders of governance have been appointed to help struggling schools. The DfE-funded support (managed by the National Governance Association) is available for schools rated “requires improvement” long-term, or those given the rating this year.

Government announcements and reviews

  • Schools Week reports that schools will have to meet the cost of all teacher pay rises over the next three years from their core budgets, as confirmed by the schools minister, but the extra £4.7 billion cash allocated at last month’s spending review would make such pressures affordable.
  • The DfE published its review of time spent in school, which ministers had promised to publish before last month’s spending review, concluding that extending the school day would involve “significant delivery considerations” including teaching capacity, new legislation and accountability measures to ensure quality.

Consultations

  • Ofqual launched a 12-week consultation for awarding organisations on designing and developing “accessible assessment”, including that exam papers should not use “complex language” when it’s not needed and should avoid “stereotypical representations”.
  • Qualifications Wales opened a consultation into which qualifications should be made available alongside new GCSEs for learners aged 14 to 16. The deadline for responses is Monday 6 December 2021.

Climate change

  • The DfE published a new draft strategy on sustainability and climate change for education and children’s services to coincide with COP26, with a final strategy to be published in April. Schools Week summarises the new school climate change policies, including a new Climate Leaders Award to recognise young people’s climate action, and a commitment that all new school buildings delivered by the DfE (not already contracted) will operate at net zero.
  • The National Governance Association updated its guidance on developing a whole school approach to environmental sustainability, produced in collaboration with the National Association for Environmental Education.

Ofsted

  • TES reports the Association of School and College Leaders has written to Ofsted calling on it to change its deferrals policy to allow schools to ask for inspection to be stopped, noting that schools should not have to grapple with the demands of an inspection while they are working “in crisis mode”.
  • Schools Weeks reports Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, has said that halving the number of ‘outstanding’ schools to one in 10 is a “more realistic starting point for the system” and reassured parents and teachers any downgrading would be a “win-win for everybody”. ‘Outstanding’ schools are being inspected this term for the first time in over a decade after an exemption clause, introduced by former education secretary Michael Gove, was overturned last year.

Research

  • New Chartered College of Teaching research has identified numerous innovations and issues from the pandemic that schools need to be aware of to help inform future practice.

Further and higher education

  • The Office for Students published an insight brief – Place matters: Inequality, employment and the role of higher education – indicating that where you live continues to impact on whether you go to university and then go on to find graduate-level employment, highlighting considerable geographical disparities affecting students and graduates in England.
  • This year’s adult participation in learning survey found 37 per cent of adults aged 17 and over in socio-economic groups D and E – working class and lower-income workers – have not participated in learning since leaving full-time education. Only four in ten adults are aware free basic skills courses are available.

Sector wide news

  • Schools Week reports that the Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi and DfE permanent secretary Susan Acland-Hood appeared at the Commons education select committee, stating their hope for the SEND review to be published in the ‘first quarter of next year’ and for there to be movement on the home education register before the end of the year.

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, 11am

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
18 November, 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 8, 2021.