Bates Wells highlights

A partnership coordinated by NCVO is to prepare a comprehensive suite of free safeguarding tools and advice for the voluntary sector. Bates Wells has been engaged to ensure the resources clearly and accurately represent the current legal position.

This week’s Briefing covers the two week period from 1st April.


At a glance

The Institute of Fundraising has published a refreshed version of its “GDPR: The Essentials for Fundraising Organisations” guidance.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is consulting on new standards for those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children.

The Department for Education has published guidance on elective home education and is consulting on a local authority registration system for children that do not attend "mainstream schools".

The Government is to work with a range of leading national youth organisations to develop a Youth Charter.


Charity Commission

Case report

The commission has published its final report into The Garden Bridge Trust. This follows an earlier report from the commission published in February 2017 about the charity and reports from other bodies, including an NAO investigation and a review by Dame Margaret Hodge. In its latest report, the commission concludes that the trustees fulfilled their legal duties including in their decision making regarding the construction of the bridge and complied with charity law (except in relation to the late filing of accounts) and there was no evidence of mismanagement. However, the commission said that the fact that £50 million of public funds were spent by a charity and produced no demonstrable public benefit or impact represents a failure for charity which risks undermining public trust. The commission went on to criticise the trustees for a lack of transparency and accountability and said that, although the 2017 accounts are compliant with the Charities SORP, it does not consider mere compliance with the SORP to be a sufficient level of transparency and accountability in the circumstances, given the nature and profile of the charity’s work. The report also mentions that the commission secured a greater degree of accountability by requesting that Companies House did not automatically strike off the company for late filing.

Inquiry report

The commission has published its inquiry report into Bethel United Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic UK. The inquiry found the former trustees responsible for misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity. This included a failure to manage the charity’s funds appropriately, including defaulting on repayments on debts amounting to £1.2 million, and failing to manage conflicts of interest in relation to transactions between the charity and a Birmingham based bakery connected to a former trustee (which resulted in a debt of £23,000 being owed to the charity, although those funds were subsequently repaid and the trustee involved resigned).

IM appointment

The commission has appointed an Interim Manager of Mohiuddin Trust (1105585) a charity with objects to relieve poverty and advance education and training for the public benefit which is currently under inquiry due to concerns of mismanagement, including in relation to a serious dispute within the charity. The commission says that the appointment was made due to continued concerns over the management of the charity. The Interim Manager will have all the powers and duties of a trustee to the exclusion of anyone purporting to be a trustee of the charity.


Tax

Gift Aid

In a speech at the Charity Tax Group conference on 4 April, HM Treasury's Exchequer Secretary Robert Jenrick has announced that charities may soon be required to publicly report the amount of gift aid relief they receive. See this link for the text of the speech.


General

NCVO has launched a new project exploring how large and small voluntary organisations, bidding to deliver services, can work better with and alongside one another. You can find out more about the project and how to get involved in this blog.

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has published its Charity Landscape report 2019 based on findings from its annual survey of leaders in the charity sector, which was conducted in November 2018. Civil Society provides commentary.

Also see under International development.


Brexit

Campaigning

Bates Wells’ Simon Steeden has written this guide ‘What does the prospect of European elections mean for campaigners?

EU funding

Bond has published an article on DFID’s confirmation in a letter to Bond that it will underwrite UK-based INGOs’ EU contracts in the event of a no deal Brexit. See also DFID’s news story on this and Penny Mordaunt’s Written Statement to Parliament on the extension of the financial assurance.

The government has updated its technical notice on European Regional development funding (ERDF) if there’s no Brexit deal to make clear that existing fund delivery bodies will continue to perform the same roles as they do now.

The government has updated its technical notice on European Social Fund (ESF) grants if there’s no Brexit deal to make clear that existing fund delivery bodies will continue to perform the same roles as they do now.

The Civil Society Involvement organisation have laid out three key areas (economic shock, human impact, funding streams) for civil society organisations to consider in the event of a No-Deal and raised them with Julia Sweeney, Head of European Programmes. You can read their full blog here.

Local Government

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee have published their report into Brexit and local government (see here for summary).

Health and social care

The Independent has published an article noting that the Brexit gridlock in the Commons had delayed the government’s publication of details on ‘care system reforms for adults with disabilities and the elderly’. This was due to be published by April 2019 but according to Age UK, has been pushed back six times with the original publication date being set for Summer 2017. This paper is meant to contain plans to ensure the financial sustainability of care within the UK for both the elderly and those with disabilities.

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced that ​EU or Swiss qualified persons entering the UK after exit may have their qualifications recognised, whether we leave the EU with or without a deal. Hospital Healthcare Europe have published an article on the announcement.

The Department of Health and Social Care has also released guidance on charging visitors from overseas should the UK leave the EU without a deal. The guidance confirms that in the event of no-deal, visitors to the UK from the EEA or Switzerland will not be covered for healthcare in the UK anymore.


Safeguarding

A partnership coordinated by NCVO is to prepare a comprehensive suite of free safeguarding tools and advice for the voluntary sector. The partnership’s initial steps will be to undertake an in-depth user engagement process to inform the design, prototype and delivery of a new ‘safeguarding gateway’ on the NCVO KnowHow website. This will be followed by the updating and development of resources that meet identified needs or gaps in provision. The accessibility of these resources will be maximised through the use of a variety of dissemination channels, including podcasts and videos. Bates Wells has been engaged to ensure the resources clearly and accurately represent the current legal position.


Data protection

New code for online children’s services

The Information Commissioner’s Office is consulting on Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services which sets out new standards for those responsible for designing, developing or providing online services likely to be accessed by children. The code sets out 16 standards of age appropriate design for online services like apps, connected toys, social media platforms, online games, educational websites and streaming services, when they process children’s personal data. The code is out for consultation until 31 May. The ICO will draft a final version to be laid before Parliament and it expects it to come into effect before the end of the year.

GDPR

The Institute of Fundraising has published a refreshed version of its May 2017 “GDPR: The Essentials for Fundraising Organisations” guidance. The IOF says it is not a fundamental rewrite, the basics are still the same – but it includes new information around minimising data protection risks, advice about when you need to consider employing a data protection officer and new top tips on how to assess whether you have a legitimate interest for carrying out direct marketing under GDPR.

ICO fines

The Information Commissioner's Office has:

Also see below under Fundraising Preference Service.


Fundraising

GDPR

See under Data protection above.

Fundraising Preference Service

Civil Society Media reports re the 59 charities reported to the ICO for failing to comply with the FPS:

The ICO has told Civil Society News it will not be taking enforcement action against the 59 charities. 14 charities have now complied with the FPS. The FR has added four new charities to its list this month.

Changes to probate fees

The changes due to come into force on 1st April have been delayed. The Parliamentary timetable means that the earliest the new fees could be introduced is towards the end of May. The Institute of Fundraising reports it has received a response from the Ministry of Justice to the joint sector letter it sent last month warning that proposed changes to probate fees would reduce legacy income available for charities. The IOF reports Lucy Frazer, parliamentary under-secretary of state for justice, said its planned changes would have no “substantial impact” on charities.


Philanthropy

Philanthropy Impact has published “Can (and should) London become the hub for global philanthropy?” by David Stead, Executive Director of Philanthropy and Development at CAF.


Grant funding

Insights on Core Funding is a new report from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, in light of research showing that core funding has not been increasing in recent years, which considers the impact and importance of core funding. Civil Society has commented on the report and carries an opinion piece from Caroline Mason, CEO of the Foundation, on the importance of core funding.


Education

The Department for Education has published Elective home education: Departmental guidance for local authorities (April 2019) and has issued a consultation on a local authority registration system for children that do not attend "mainstream schools". The consultation closes on 24 June 2019.

Early years

£6.5 million funding has been announced for councils to launch new projects like family reading sessions and parenting pop ups.

Schools

The Government has committed £940 million to protect the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Also see under Local authorities below.

Higher education

The Education Secretary Damian Hinds is calling for a review of admissions practices after the extent that ‘conditional unconditional’ offers are used by institutions was revealed by UCAS last year. A ‘conditional unconditional’ offer from a university informs students that they are guaranteed a place, but only if they put the university as their first option. Government says this could breach laws designed to protect consumers from entering into a transaction they otherwise wouldn’t have.


Children's and youth services

The government is spending £84m on new projects to strengthen families and keep children out of care.

The Government is to work with:

  • a range of leading national youth organisations to develop a Youth Charter. The organisations include UK Youth, Step Up to Serve, Youth United Foundation, The Scouts, the British Youth Council, Girlguiding, NCS Trust, National Youth Agency and The Prince’s Trust.
  • sports organisations such as the Premier League and basketball, boxing and cycling bodies to increase sports activity in youth crime hot spots.

Health

See above under Brexit and Data protection, ICO fines.


Social finance

Charity Finance reports almost a third of the largest charity investors in the UK have no responsible investment policy in their latest published accounts.

The Dormant Assets Scheme: A Blueprint for Expansion is a new Government-commissioned report, written by finance industry ‘champions’, setting out a plan to expand the dormant assets funding scheme beyond just banking sector assets. Civil Society reports on the publication.

The Global Impact Investing Network has published a report, Sizing the Impact Investing Market, providing analysis and estimating the size of that market at $502 billion.

Report reveals that there is more to do to ensure charity trustees engage with financial governance. Charity Finance Group and MHA have published a report on the level of engagement of trustees with financial governance.


Social impact

The NPC project Inspiring Impact has a new website with a range of resources and self-assessment tools. Civil Society Media has more commentary on it here.

Bates Wells is now sending out a fortnightly “Impact Economy Brief” to clients. See here for the first edition. If you would like to sign up to the Impact Economy Brief, please email our Marketing department here.


Faith based organisations

See under Communities below.


International development

In a new report “Ensuring civil society is heard”, BOND argues that the quality of the relationship between civil society and government is in decline. The report is “a response to failures in the UK government to adequately engage and consult with civil society organisations working in international development, leaving them excluded from decision-making processes and exposing government policies and programmes to avoidable errors”.


Sport

See under Children’s and youth services above.


Communities

The government has launched a £3 million scheme to regenerate village halls.


Local government

See under Brexit and Education above.

New guidance sets out how councils can seek funding from housing development in their area and use it to create school places.

The Parliamentary Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee is carrying out an inquiry into local government finance. The deadline for written evidence is this Wednesday 17 April 2019.


Fraud and cyber security

The government has published its Cyber Security Breaches Survey 2019, which shows that one fifth of charities experienced a cyber security breach last year. For more see this summary by Bates Wells’ Melinder Jhittay.


Elections and campaigning

Last month the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee launched an inquiry asking how urgently comprehensive electoral reform is required, what should be prioritised, and whether there is a need to go beyond the Law Commission’s proposals outlined in their 2016 interim report. The deadline for written submissions is 20 May 2019.


Scotland

The consultation on changes to Scottish charity law has now closed. The consultation documents (including the consultation paper and 260 published responses) can be viewed here.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has published a blogpost by Laura Anderson (its Head of Professional Advice and Intelligence) on the subject of its risk assessment processes.


Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has announced changes to the process for applying for registration as a charity in Northern Ireland which are aimed at streamlining the process. CCNI will continue managing registration applications in tranches, with organisations in each tranche advised one or two months in advance of when they are likely to be called forward to apply. This will allow them to prepare in advance, including gathering information and having the option of attending a free registration workshop where they will be guided through the application process. The applicant will then be “called forward” by CCNI to apply for registration. They will be issued with a password and advised they have a maximum of 30 days to complete the online form. If an application is not submitted by this deadline the organisation will be treated as having failed to apply for charity registration – a breach of the law, see here and also the following FAQs aimed at covering common queries in relation to the new submission timescale of 30 days.

 

 


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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 16/04/2019 in Legal Updates

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