Bates Wells highlights

The new Code of Fundraising Practice has been published - though it doesn't come into effect until October 2019.


 At a glance

A charity CEO has been found by the Insolvency Service to be a “de facto” director of the charity, and has been disqualified from acting as a company director for seven years.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a report “GDPR – one year on”, sharing learnings from the past twelve months.

The government has announced the Innovation in Democracy Programme, trialling the involvement of citizens in local government decision-making.


Charity Commission

New Inquiry

The commission has announced that it has opened an inquiry into Devon Charitable Trust (1106720): a Harrow-based charity which exists to relieve poverty and advance religion throughout the UK and world wide. The commission says that it has been looking into the charity since August 2018 to examine serious concerns about its management and administration. These were escalated into a statutory inquiry when analysis of the charity’s bank statements revealed that over £850,000 of charitable funds had been transferred to the bank account of one of the charity’s trustees. Amongst other concerns, including the failure to file its accounts on time, the commission says it also has concerns about the impact of potential conflicts of interest on the trustee board.

Inquiry reports

Refusing donations

See under Fundraising below.

Charity SORP governance review

The panel reviewing the governance of the Charity SORP has published its final report. The Charity Commission has issued this press release in response to the report.


Relief of poverty

This article “Human rights approaches to eliminating poverty” has been published by Philanthropy Impact.


Governance

This is an unusual Insolvency Service announcement about a charity CEO being disqualified from acting as a company director. It is a rare example of a charity CEO being labelled as a "de facto" company director, though there’s little commentary in the announcement about the basis for this. The main criticism of the CEO is that he entered into payment by results contracts “without undertaking the necessary due diligence and failed to realise that the targets set were unachievable”.


Tax and VAT

Charity Tax Group has issued a reminder that, as part of an HMRC compliance review, 3,000 charities (those with the largest Gift Aid claims) will be asked to complete a tax return this year. HMRC has started sending out letters notifying charities that a tax return request will be sent to them. Requests for tax returns will be sent to a random sample of several hundred CASCs.


Brexit

General

Wales Civil Society Forum for Brexit have released a guide for small to large third sector organisations on preparing for Brexit, setting out some useful questions to consider in carrying out risk assessments for Brexit.

The House of Commons have released the latest version of their Brexit Briefing Paper, which is a compilation reading list of post-EU Referendum publications. The publications cover topics such as state aid, employment and the UK shared prosperity fund.

The House of Commons have published a list of questions that have been asked in both national and EU courts over the changes Brexit will bring on topical issues such as citizen’s rights, extradition and matters of EU law.

Charities Working Overseas

Third Sector reports that Western Union, the finance firm, thinks that charities “must do more to prepare for a no-deal Brexit and £1.3bn of donations could be at risk from fluctuations in the value of the pound” – Western Union estimate that “£1 in every £8 donated in the UK could be affected because it is spent on projects and programmes abroad. A crash in the value of the pound could mean that it becomes significantly more expensive to buy goods and services in foreign countries.”

Immigration

The Parliamentary Home Affairs Select Committee have released a report on the EU Settlement Scheme and warns that the lack of certainty over future rights of EU citizens resident within the UK could mean risking a repeat of the Windrush Scandal.

Consumer law

The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the impact of Brexit on consumers’ rights in the UK. The briefing paper summarises the current structure of the UK consumer protection regime and EU consumer policy and provides an outline of the possible impact of Brexit for UK consumers, including in a no deal scenario.


Data Protection 

GDPR

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a report “GDPR – one year on”, sharing learnings from the past twelve months. Interestingly, the ICO has increased in size and a funding model change meant the ICO's fee income increased by 86% in 2018/19 compared with 2017/18.

AI

See this blog setting out some of the key themes identified in the ICO and The Alan Turing Institute’s interim report about explanations of AI decisions.

Prosecutions

A former customer services officer at Stockport Homes Limited (SHL) has been found guilty of unlawfully accessing personal data without a legitimate reason to do so. She was ordered to pay a £300 fine, £364.08 costs and a victim surcharge of £30.


Fundraising

New Code of Fundraising Practice

The new Code of Fundraising Practice has been published, and will come into effect in October 2019. The Fundraising Regulator says the changes include:

adding the rulebooks and legal appendices to the code, so that all standards can be found in one place
a new structure for better navigation - the standards are in three parts, making it easy to know which ones apply depending on the type of fundraising being clear about the differences in law in England and Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
transparent, jargon-free language – the Plain English campaign gave the code a Crystal Mark standard.

Complaints will continue to be considered against the version of the code in effect at the time of the incident. This means the new code will be used as the basis for making decisions about any incidents that take place from October onwards.

The IOF has published this commentary.

Refusing/returning donations

An article on refusing donations by Sarah Atkinson at the Charity Commission, which we mentioned a few weeks ago as having been published in Governance and Leadership magazine, has now been published on the Charity Commission blog.


Education

Schools

A letter has been sent to all schools to draw their attention to the report from the Children’s Future Food Inquiry, which explored the food situation of disadvantaged children across the UK. The letter highlights the following issues which were raised in the report, and encourages schools to consider whether they are doing all they can in these areas:

a positive lunchtime experience
avoiding stigma about entitlement to free school meals
access to free drinking water

Further education

The government has announced the 17 colleges awarded funding totalling £2.5 million from the third and final round of the Strategic College Improvement Fund (SCIF).


Health

As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, the government committed to reviewing commissioning arrangements for some local authority-commissioned public health services. That review has now concluded, recommending that the NHS work much more closely with local authorities on public health so that commissioning is more joined-up and prevention is embedded into a wider range of health services. For the full detail, see here. The Department of Health and Social Care will be seeking views in a forthcoming prevention green paper about how action can be taken forward.


Social Finance

The first reports from the independent evaluation of the Growth Fund have been published: on the set up of the overall programme; and on evidence of delivery from social investors to charities and social enterprises. Big Society Capital and Access comment on the reports’ findings.

This may be particularly interesting for anyone working in housing, homelessness or domestic violence: Housing and social impact investing: our focus, challenges and solutions. Big Society Capital sets out its strategy and collaborations in relation to using impact investment to tackle social problems that are affected by housing.

New independent institute to push impact investing, influence policy. Pioneers Post comments on the recent announcement by the DCMS and DFID about the new Impact Investing Institute, which will be independent of government and is due to open this autumn.

Stewardship aims to triple expenditure by 2025. Civil Society reports that the charity, which helps Christian donors to give to organisations or individuals of their choice, gave out £69.9m in grants in the year to March 2018 but wants to more than triple this over the next six years.

Investment can join the war on climate change. A short commentary in Third Sector from Kate Rogers, Head of Policy at Cazenove Charities, encouraging charities to consider using their investments to tackle climate change.


 Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities

The Communities Minister Lord Bourne has launched a national strategy to tackle entrenched inequality and improve the lives of Gypsy, Roma and Traveller communities. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is to lead the national strategy, working with several government departments and the Cabinet Office Race Disparity Unit to improve outcomes in areas including health, education and employment.


Volunteering

A new report from NCVO concludes that the experiences of people who give their time through employer-organised or employer-supported activities, known as employer-supporter volunteering, are positive but lag behind those who arrange their own volunteering.

The Centre for Ageing Better has published a guide to Age-friendly and inclusive volunteering, to help encourage volunteering in later life.


Local authorities

The government has announced the Innovation in Democracy Programme (IiDP) trialling the involvement of citizens in local government decision-making. The IiDP is jointly delivered by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The IiDP is supporting three local authorities to include citizen deliberation, combined with online engagement, in the making of a key policy decision. The local authorities will pilot Area Democracy Forums (combined with digital platforms) involving a randomly selected and representative sample of residents, who will be requested to make recommendations on a strategic issue that would usually be made by the local authority. The policy areas selected for this programme are the future of town centres, improving public transport and the future of waste and recycling. The learning from the IiDP will be shared with other local authorities who are interested in new forms of citizen participation.


Environment

On 19 May 2019, the government announced £10m of funding to help plant urban trees through the Urban Tree Challenge Fund. The funding, which will assist in the planting of over 130,000 trees and will be administered by the Forestry Commission, will be in the form of matched funding grants for individuals, local authorities, charities and NGOs. The government aims for the fund to assist in meeting its target to plant 1,000,000 urban trees by 2022. Applications for the funding opened on 23 May 2019.


Scotland

OSCR, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, is promoting the Scottish Government’s Families and Communities Fund which will run from April 2020 to March 2023, with up to £16m being available annually. The funding is targeted at registered Scottish charities (which are CLGs or SCIOs) which deliver work of national significance. To read more click here.

OSCR has also commented on the SORP review panel report.


 Northern Ireland

CCNI, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, has commented on the new Code of Fundraising Practice.

CCNI has also commented on the SORP review panel report.

CCNI is continuing to text charity trustees to remind them that their annual accounting information is due, read the full article here.


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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 11/06/2019 in Legal Updates

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