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


Coronavirus – Public inquiry

The Cabinet Office has published terms of reference setting out the aims of the public inquiry into the coronavirus pandemic. The inquiry will cover preparedness, the public health response, the response in the health and care sector and the government’s response. It will aim to identify the lessons learned, to inform preparations for future pandemics across the UK.  Bates Wells’ Claire Whittle comments “The finalised terms of reference are wide-ranging, and encompass the social, economic and political impact of the pandemic. Their publication marks a significant step forward for the Inquiry, which is now “set up” under the provisions of the Inquiries Act 2005, and can now begin to consider evidence.” If you would like to sign up to our Covid-19 Inquiry alerts, please let us know.  


Coronavirus – force majeure

The High Court has held that a force majeure clause applying when a party was “unable” to perform could not be relied on when performance was only temporarily delayed.  The facts are slightly unusual as the case relates to the sale of a ship with was due to be demolished and recycled – so in the context of the overall transaction, a delay in delivery of the ship due to COVID, did not trigger the force majeure clause.  NKD Maritime Ltd v Bart Maritime (No. 2) Inc [2022] EWHC 1615.


Stephen Lloyd Awards

Do you have a novel idea to help make society a better place? Apply to the 2022 Stephen Lloyd Awards before 7 September. The Awards seeks entries from charities, social enterprises and those with a curious mind to overcome barriers to social change. The Awards provides emerging innovations the funding and encouragement needed to cultivate their emerging ideas. For details on eligibility and how to apply, please scroll down or visit www.stephenlloydawards.org.


Charity Commission

Sector diversity

A coalition of charities and voluntary sector leaders have written to the commission’s chief executive Helen Stephenson, calling on the commission to address the “massive diversity problem” in senior positions among UK charities. The letter can be found here. It calls for the commission to begin requiring charities to include diversity information about their senior leaders and board members in their annual returns.

New inquiries

The charity commission has announced the opening of three new statutory inquiries:


Corporate foundations

If it has been some time since your corporate foundation was set up then it may not be up to date with the latest guidance between charities and non-charities and how this applies to corporate foundations. For a fixed fee we can provide a full health check and bespoke action plan for your foundation. Do get in touch if you’d like to discuss. 


Diversity and inclusion

See above under Charity Commission. 


Human rights

Last week we flagged the Bill of Rights has been introduced into Parliament.  See comment here from Amnesty International on what the sector is calling the “Rights Removal Bill”.


Fundraising

The number of people giving to charity in the UK is declining significantly, according to new research from the Charities Aid Foundation. Between January and April 2022, an estimated 4.9m fewer people said they donated to charity or sponsored someone in the previous year, compared to the same months in 2019.


Data protection

ICO approach to enforcement against public authorities

The Information Commissioner’s Office has set out a revised approach to working more effectively with public authorities.  This approach, which is outlined in an open letter from the UK Information Commissioner John Edwards to public authorities, will see use of the Commissioner’s discretion to reduce the impact of fines on the public sector, coupled with better engagement including publicising lessons learned and sharing good practice. It will be trialled over the next two years.  In practice, this will mean an increased use of the ICO’s wider powers, including warnings, reprimands and enforcement notices, with fines only issued in the most serious cases.


Intellectual Property

The Government has published its response to its consultation on Intellectual Property and Artificial Intelligence. The response includes that:

  • the Government intends to amend copyright law to make it easier to analyse material for the purposes of machine learning, research and innovation; and
  • no changes will be made now to the UK’s patent inventorship criteria or copyright computer generated works provisions but it will keep AI technical development under review  

Scotland

OSCR has provided information for charities who need to complete their Annual Return. OSCR’s online services are set to be upgraded from 15 July 2022 until 24 July 2022 so users will not be able to access the online system to complete their annual return. Therefore, they advise that if your charity has an annual return deadline during this time please to submit now.


Social enterprise sector news

Social Business Profile: SharpFutures – the Manchester venture nurturing young creatives. In this profile piece, Pioneers Post explores the success of the social enterprise SharpFutures, which aims to create opportunities in the creative industries for young working-class people from diverse backgrounds. It runs the ‘Sharp Project’ – a hub for creative businesses; it also delivers workshops in schools, and with media companies like the BBC, Channel 4, Sky and ITV, to train young people from underrepresented backgrounds.


Social investment / social impact investment news

Sector will need to ‘make the case’ for social investment during economic crisis warns Big Society Capital chief executive, Stephen Muers. In this Third Sector article, Muers discusses the challenges that social enterprises and organisations will face due to growing economic uncertainty and nervousness of investors. 

Opinion: Reform the banking system, not Big Society Capital. Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest, writes an opinion piece for Pioneers Post, exploring possible ways to encourage mainstream banks to play a bigger role in the social economy. Suggestions include reforming the implementation of anti-money laundering and anti-fraud “know your customer” legislation, to ensure business bank mangers know their customers; introducing wage caps for deposit taking instructions in banks and building societies at, e.g., 10 times the London living wage (£200,000); and providing a corporation tax break for banks that meet performance requirements for customer service and relationship quality. 

Building the social impact investment market – highlights from 2021. Big Society Capital (BSC) has published its Annual Review for 2021. In 2021, it signed a total of 12 new investments, totalling £80m, which means that since it was launched in 2012, it has committed over £820m to more than 2,000 organisations across the UK. Of note in 2021 was its collaboration with the government to help provide £30m of extra funding to the Everyone In Scheme Social Investment Pilot. Alongside this, BSC reported a net profit of £16.1m in 2021 and launched its new strategy, which focuses on four investment areas: Impact Venture, Social lending, Social property and Social outcomes contracts (commentary on the report from BSC CEO, Stephen Muers).

Charity Bank announces record lending and surplus. Charity Bank, the loans and savings bank for charities and social enterprises, has announced its results for year ended December 2021, including that the bank made its largest ever surplus, of £0.9m, which will be re-invested in support of its social mission. It also announced that it has made £51m in new loans to charities and social enterprises, which is stated to be more than at any other point in its history.


Sport

The sports sector is being invited to mark Plastic Free July (1 to 31 July) with a ‘kick plastic out of sport’ social media campaign.


Education

Schools

The government has laid the Coasting Schools (England) Regulations 2022 before parliament. It is part of the DfE’s plans to improve underperforming schools, with the new powers meaning that schools with two or more consecutive Ofsted ratings below ‘Good’ may be matched with a strong multi-academy trust, to support their improvement.

The DfE has launched the ‘academies regulation and commissioning review advisory group’ to conduct an internal policy review of academy trusts and their development, to aid the move towards an academy trust-led school system. The department’s review will look at:

  • the expectations set for academy trusts
  • how these are measured and intervened against
  • how this affects decisions about trust establishment, growth and mergers

It is believed the review will conclude by the end 2022 and will give clarity on how the powers in the Schools Bill, currently going through parliament, will be applied. Please find the DfE press release here.

The DfE, alongside DCMS, has announced the launch of a new scheme which hopes to provide 3,000 primary schools across rural England with improved lightning-fast gigabit broadband. The £82 million investment aims to provide better internet access to an estimated 500,000 pupils in rural schools.

The Education Secretary has announced a range of measures aimed at reducing the cost of childcare for parents. Proposals include changing child to staff ratios in early years setting, to reduce the cost of this form of childcare. The government also wants to support more people to become childminders and encourage the growth of childminder agencies.

Higher and Further Education

ESFA has published its updated policy for apprenticeship funding in England.

The DfE discusses the success of the government’s Turing scheme which enters its second year.  The scheme provides opportunities for school children and college and university students from disadvantaged backgrounds to study abroad. The scheme, which replaced the Erasmus+ programme, will provide more than 130 universities, 116 further education providers and 70 schools with £105m worth of grants.

The Apprenticeships and Skills minister Alex Burghart has written a letter to all apprenticeship providers which outlines his vision for the next steps on apprenticeship quality. This includes setting an ambition for apprenticeship standards achievements to reach 67% by 2025.

The OfS has published its Annual report and accounts 2021-22.


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Entrants with an early-stage project addressing a social problem in an innovative manner are invited to apply before 7 September 2022. Winners receive funding of at least £20,000, along with an opportunity to receive valuable pro bono support from experts in the charity and social enterprise sector. The Awards will also be making an announcement about a proposed additional award with an environmental focus. Clarification on that will be revealed very soon. For full details on the application process and how to apply, please visit www.stephenlloydawards.org or email Mona Rahman (The Stephen Lloyd Awards are an initiative of the Bates Wells Foundation, charity reg. number 1150321)


Disclaimer – The information contained in this update is not intended to be a comprehensive update – it is our selection of the website announcements made in the week up to last Friday which we think will be of interest to charities and social enterprises. The content is necessarily of a general nature – specific advice should always be sought for specific situations.