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

Charity Commission

Blog – what is a trustee and how to become one?

In light of “The Big Help Out”, the Government’s push for volunteering over the King’s coronation weekend, the Commission has written a blog explaining the fundamentals of trusteeship. The blog contains information about being a trustee and resources for those who are interested in becoming one.

Internal financial controls for charities (CC8)

The Commission has updated its guidance for trustees on internal financial controls. The guidance aims to help charities better mitigate against financial risks, including newer risks such as crypto. Risks from crypto assets highlighted include vulnerability to theft by hackers; potential sudden changes in value; difficulty in tracing donors, and a lack of protection from agencies such as the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) or the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) if something goes wrong. The Commission says it has, restructured the guidance to be clearer and more concise, and updated the checklist for charities to help put it into practice. See here for the Commission’s press release.

Bates Wells partner Hannah Lyons comments “The exciting news is that it now includes guidance on crypto-currencies and what charities should think about when accepting crypto-donations. Whilst this is helpful, the Commission has taken quite a cautious stance. There are obviously risks involved in accepting crypto-donations but there are lots of opportunities for charities too. It will be interesting to see if the Fundraising Regulator takes a similar approach in its updates to the Code of Fundraising Practice later this year.”

Helen Stephenson speech

Commission CEO Helen Stephenson gave a speech at Civil Society Media’s Trustee Exchange, in which she laid out the Commission’s plans to better support trustees, asking in return for trustees to use the Commission’s guidance to inform charity management, as ‘too few trustees currently do’. The full transcript can be found here.

Statutory Inquiry – Keren Shmuel

The Commission has announced that it has opened a statutory inquiry into Keren Shmuel, a Jewish charity based in North London. The charity first drew the Commission’s attention in 2017 when it failed to submit annual returns from 2014 and 2015 on time and became part of the class inquiry into ”double defaulters”. They have since failed to meet filing obligations twice, leading to this inquiry.. 

Charities Act 2022

The Charities (Dispositions of Land: Designated Advisers and Reports) Regulations 2023 (SI 2023/467) were made on 24 April 2023.

They give charities more choice in who they can seek advice from on land disposals, by broadening who can be a designated adviser for the purpose of section 119 of the Charities Act 2011. They also simplify the content of designated advisers’ reports for use in charity land disposals.  The regulations will come into force on the same day as sections 19 and 20 of the Charities Act 2022. We expect an implementation order to be made soon, bringing these provisions into force. On the same day, the Charity Commission will publish updated guidance, “Selling, leasing or otherwise disposing of charity land in England and Wales”.

Charity law cases

The High Court has granted the trustee of the National Fund permission to use the charitable trust’s funds to apply to the Court of Appeal for permission to appeal and, if granted, to pursue the appeal itself.  As you may remember, this is a case where the trustee is challenging the High Court’s decision that the National Fund should be applied cy-près for the reduction of the national debt, rather than for general charitable purposes in the UK.  We can’t currently find a publicly accessible link to the judgment but will include one in future if we find it.


The Chartered Governance Institute has published a new paper “Tackling greenwashing from a governance perspective”. 

See below under Equity, diversity and inclusion.

Tax and VAT

Consultation on charities and CASC tax compliance

HMRC has begun a consultation to “examine some of the charity taxation rules to help tackle non-compliance and protect the integrity of the charity sector without changing the overall purpose of the reliefs”.  The consultation, which will also be of interest to CASCs (Community Amateur Sports Clubs), will close on 20 July 2023.  The main areas of focus are:

  • HMRC could withhold claims to reliefs (including for example Gift aid) until they submit a return.

Retail Gift Aid – de minimis option

Thanks to Charity Tax Group for flagging that HMRC has now agreed a much simplified end-of-year letter for charities using the de minimis retail gift aid option.  The template letter can be accessed from this CTG page.  For this year, charities can use this template or the previous version, but from 2024 this new template must be used.  As a reminder, the HMRC deadline for sending the end-of-year letters is 31 May each year.

Climate change

See above under Governance.

Equity, diversity and inclusion

Chartered Governance Institute has published:

  • this blog about the Welsh Rugby Union voting in favour of major board reform, following allegations of sexism and misogyny within the organisation.
  • This blog about the benefits that the appointment of younger directors can bring.

Fundraising and funding

See under Charity Commission above.

Bates Wells has produced a Briefing for Chartered Institute of Fundraising members on the new Data Protection Bill

Data protection

Bates Wells has published “The New UK Data Protection Bill – A Practical Summary”.  Rayhaan Vankalwala  explains “The UK recently introduced a new data protection bill, titled the Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2) Bill. The Bill is still at an early stage (second reading), and it remains to be seen how it will be amended, if at all, but we wanted to take the opportunity to give you an indication of some of the more practical changes that the Bill seeks to introduce, and its potential impact on organisations subject to UK data protection law.”

Freedom of information

The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched the third topic in its FOI toolkit to enable public authorities to self-assess how they deal with vexatious requests.  The two earlier topics are timeliness of responses to information requests and Exemption where cost of compliance exceeds the appropriate limit.

Real estate/venues

See above under Charities Act 2022.

Government has published the draft legislation for the proposed new Martyn’s Law which will introduce new safety requirements for venues of 100 person capacity and over.  Bates Wells Jamie Huard comments “This law will be relevant for charities which hold events in large venues, including for example religious charities with large places of worship.”


OSCR has published a new Sector Overview Report covering the period up to 31 March, showing income, expenditure, purposes, beneficiaries, activities and operations. The report shows that 10% of Scottish charities are currently defaulting on their accounts and have not submitted annual returns.  See the attached PDF for Third Sector commentary on this.

Northern Ireland

New NICVA cyber security resource

The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action has published a new resource offering advice on how to improve cyber security and links to information on dealing with cyber-attacks.

Northern Ireland Local Council Elections 2023

The Commission is reminding charities to be politically independent and not party political in the weeks leading up to the elections. They have given some general guidance & provided resources on charities & politics, which can all be found here.

Health and social care

The King’s Fund has published a report which provides an overview of the key actions required to tackle barriers and challenges to better partnership working between integrated care systems (ICS) and the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. It identifies ways of working that can help mitigate barriers and facilitate solutions, and systemic actions that can help embed and spread good practice.  The report is supported by a resource, A framework for addressing practical barriers to integration of VCSE sector organisations (NHS England 2023). This resource includes examples of approaches that areas have adopted to address practical barriers and detailed case examples drawn from different ICSs.

Social enterprise

Social Enterprise UK released a statement on the coronation of His Majesty Charles III and his associations with social enterprise Duchy Originals and the Prince’s Trust. 

Social investment / social impact investment

Investor in Focus: why the Church of England has committed £25m to impact. Vanessa Morphet, head of social impact investment at the Archbishops’ Council, spoke to Pioneers Post about the Church of England’s social investment strategy and future plans. The Church’s Social Impact Investment Programme launched two years ago with grant funding from the Church Commissioners.

Big Society Capital welcomes James Chew, HSBC’s Head of Regulatory Strategy, as its new bank appointed non-executive director.

The Recovery Loan Fund has reopened for charity applications following the British Business Bank’s decision to exempt charities from the requirement to have “significant levels” of trading income. The Fund provides financing between £100,000 and £1.5m to English, Welsh and Scottish social organisations. You can find more info about the Fund here.

Pushing the boundaries of impact measurement for CDFIs. Heidi Fisher MBE, founder of Make An Impact CIC, writes for Responsible Finance about Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) developing their impact measurement in order to better change policy, increase awareness and generate more investment flow. Fisher explains that this requires impact measurement to change in three ways: better methods of capturing and using impact data, thinking about long-term impact, and a more nuanced understanding of links between impact areas. For further guidance, Fisher refers to CDFIs Impact Measurement and Reporting: Challenges and Solutions, a white paper that Fisher wrote and is published by Make An Impact CIC.

Philanthropy Impact reported that the APPG for Philanthropy and Social Investment held a roundtable on 25 April focusing on how social impact investment can drive innovative solutions to some of the UK’s biggest current issues, and how social enterprises can unlock more private capital for public benefit. 

Faith based organisations

See above under Real estate/venues.

Does government ‘do’ God?  The Bloom Review

Colin Bloom, the government’s Independent Faith Engagement Advisor, has published the Bloom Review, a far-reaching and independent review into how government engages with faith in a broad range of public institutions – from schools and prisons, to the Civil Service and the Armed Forces.  Bates Wells Leona Roche has reviewed the report – see her comments here.


See above under Equity, diversity and inclusion and under Tax and VAT.

The Government and the Sport and Recreation Alliance have published the first UK-wide Concussion Guidelines for Grassroots Sport, aimed at helping players, coaches, parents, schools, National Governing Bodies and sports administrators to identify, manage and prevent the issue.

International development

Bond has published this interesting blog about its new advisory group made up of people representing feminist and youth movements, climate change and the diaspora community and who are actively involved in networks on shifting power, decolonisation, and community-led development.



Ofsted has issued a press release about a new report exploring the role played by multi-academy trusts within the school inspections system. The report finds that they play an important part in each stage of the process. Issues arise due to Ofsted’s legal remit only permitting inspections to operate at an individual school level, which limits the extent to which inspectors can report on the work of the trust as a whole.

The DfE has published Implementing the Direct National Funding Formula, a response to a consultation on a direct schools’ national funding formula in England. Under a direct National Funding Formula, every mainstream school’s funding allocation will be determined by the same formula, regardless of the school’s local authority.  The response suggests that for this to work, the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 would have to be replaced with an updated legislative framework. 

The DfE has also published Guidance on handling admission requests for summer born children. This is non-statutory guidance aimed at local schools authorities.  

State schools in England will receive a boost of funding as part of a £2 billion cash injection into the sector. A typical primary school will receive roughly £35,000, and a typical secondary school roughly £200,000, from 10th May. How they invest the money is up to them. The DfE press release can be found here.

The DfE has given £17 million in funding to incentivise academy trusts to “support schools facing unexpected or imminent failure to improve”. See here for Schools Week commentary and here for the DfE guidance on the “emergency school improvement fund”.

The DfE has published a blog on the latest updates and information regarding teachers’ strikes.

The latest information and actions from the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academies, schools, colleges, local authorities and FE providers has been published.

The Education Secretary, Gillian Keegan, gave a speech at the Education World Forum addressing the importance of international education and the benefits of Artificial Intelligence in the sector. The transcript of her speech can be found here.

Further Education

The deadline to apply for the latest round of ‘flexi-job apprenticeship agencies’ closes at 10am on May 31st. These agencies are designed for industries where it is more difficult to stay with the same employer for 12 months – such as creative industries.

Six “green” apprenticeships have been flagged by industry specialists as particularly sustainable, in honour of His Majesty The King’s Coronation.  The apprenticeships were hand-picked for their contributions to a low-carbon economy through equipping apprentices with skills needed to transition the country to net zero.

FE Week reports that the DfE has announced an update to the March £32 million higher technical skills injection – the number will be cut by a third as £11 million will be withheld by the Department. This leaves £21 million in the fund.

Higher Education

The Office for Students has published case studies explaining how it works with higher education providers such as universities to respond to risks of closure. These case studies highlight regulatory interventions the OfS has made to protect students at higher education institutions. They have also included a summary of how they monitor financial sustainability. The full case studies can be found here.

The Office for Students is consulting on regulating to protect students from harassment and sexual misconduct.  An OfS Student Panel member, Nkechi Adeboye, wrote an article with her views on the consultation and why it is important for students to interact with the subject.

The Lifelong Learning (Higher Education Fee Limits) Bill has reached a third reading in the Commons. The Bill was introduced by Gillian Keegan, the Education Secretary, to lay groundwork for “Lifelong loan entitlement”, a policy which would give people access to lifelong student loans worth up to £37,000. Despite opposition from MPs, the Bill was tabled for its first reading in the House of Lords. A date for a second Lords reading has not been set.