BWB Briefing for Charities and Social Enterprise

At a glance

The Charity Commission has launched a consultation on an updated draft of its guide to trustees’ duties, ‘The essential trustee (CC3)’.

A cross-sector alliance of charities has formally launched the Understanding Charities Group, aimed at improving public trust and confidence in charities.

Big Lottery Fund has published “Social Impact Bonds: The State of Play”.

“The Rules to Give By Index”, a new international index of government support for charitable giving, has been published.

Charity Commission

The Charity Commission has launched a consultation on an updated draft of its guide to trustees’ duties, ‘The essential trustee (CC3)’. The draft contains a new statement about complying not just with legal requirements but with good practice recommendations. The new guidance states that if trustees can’t justify why they haven’t followed good practice, the Commission is likely to treat this as misconduct or mismanagement. BWB’s Julian Blake says, “This is a significant suggestion of change which is not consistent with basic charity law, which establishes general principles to be interpreted in the particular circumstances, not prescriptive lists to be applied to all circumstances. BWB will be responding strongly to the consultation and encourages anyone with a concern about this change to respond too.” The consultation closes in February.

The Commission has published:

  • An Inquiry report into Stanbridge Earls School Trust. This is a complex case involving safeguarding issues leading ultimately to the closure of the school and the charity going into administration.
  • An Operational compliance case report involving the charity Gads Hill School. The main issues related to whether the governors were dealing appropriately with allegations about the level of the headteacher’s salary and expenses claims.

During Counter-Terrorism Week last week, the Commission issued a reminder to charity trustees to ensure that their fundraising activities are lawful.

See item under Tax and VAT below.

Tax and VAT

Civil Society Media has reported that plans for the Charity Commission and HMRC to set up a joint registration process for charities are likely to be delayed until 2016. It was initially hoped that a new searchable register would be up and running by Christmas, but this has been delayed thanks to 'external factors' which the Commission could not control.

Charities Aid Foundation has contributed to a new international study, “The Rules to Give By Index”, the world’s first international index of government support for charitable giving. The study found that the percentage of people donating money to charity is 12 percentage points higher in nations offering tax incentives to individuals (33 per cent) than in those that do not (21 per cent).


Civil Society Media reports a cross-sector alliance of charities has formally launched the Understanding Charities Group, aimed at improving public trust and confidence in charities.

Charities and terrorism

See item under Charity Commission above.

Social finance

See this Cabinet Office press release about the Investment and Contract Readiness Fund which “helps charities and social enterprises acquire the skills to raise investment and compete for public service contracts” The release states that, so far, 51 charities and social enterprises have won deals worth £117 million with help from ICRF grants worth just £4.5 million – £26 for each £1 of grant.

Big Lottery Fund has published a report “Social Impact Bonds: The State of Play”. Both a summary and the full report can be downloaded here. BWB’s Luke Fletcher comments “The report paints a positive picture on balance but it is also a reminder of the challenge to keep SIBs as simple as possible, whilst ensuring that risk is allocated effectively in the legal documents between the different parties involved. This will remain a challenge for the foreseeable future, as every SIB is likely to be at least a little different to the last and SIB models are still developing.”

Social enterprise

The Department for Committees and Local Government reports a demand notice has been issued on Social Enterprise North West (SENW) to recover £1.4 million of public money after “serious irregularities” in its accounts were uncovered. The money forms part of a grant given to SENW to run a business advisory service in Liverpool called the Big Enterprise in Communities project. The project, run by SENW together with 17 supporting organisations, received a total of £3.79 million from the European Regional Development Fund, administered by the Department for Communities and Local Government. However in July 2014, an audit carried out by the Audit Authority in accordance with European Commission rules identified serious breaches in the project’s accounts. The DCLG’s demand notice will not seek to reclaim any of the money from BEiC’s 17 supporting organisations, "who operated in good faith throughout".

A significant number of the UK’s social enterprises are exporting goods and services, according to a new report “Exporting Social Enterprise” published last week by the British Council and Social Enterprise UK.

See here for a list of Community Interest Companies registered in October.


The Department for Education has published:

Also see items re schools under Charity Commission above.

Health and social care

Last week the new “duty of candour” and “fit and proper persons” requirement for directors come into force for NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts and some special health authorities that provide care and treatment that are regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

“Winterbourne view – Time for Change”, a report on the future of services for people with learning disabilities and/or autism has been published.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission is working with health and social care providers and commissioners across England, to develop and test education and training resources on human rights.

A joint review by the Care Quality Commission and Monitor has found "no evidence of serious failings in the organisational culture at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, but has highlighted areas in need of improvement."

See item under volunteers below.


Seven social action projects have been awarded £700,000 in total to support unpaid family carers. They include projects run by British Red Cross and Parkinson’s UK.

Company law

Corporate transparency – a consultation has been issued about making charities, among others, exempt from the proposed prohibition on corporate directors

Human Rights

See item under Health above.

Consumer law reform

BIS is consulting on three sets of guidance on the Consumer Rights Bill which is expected to come into force on 1 Oct 2015.

Data protection

Civil Society Media reports the Institute of Fundraising has met with fundraising associations across Europe to discuss how to lobby against proposed EU data protection legislation that could damage fundraising.


The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint that a TV ad for the Health Lottery condoned or encouraged gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible or could lead to financial harm.


The Institute of Fundraising has this week changed its Code of Fundraising Practice to introduce a new standard for those fundraising with people in vulnerable circumstances, and to introduce accompanying guidance.

See items above under Charity Commission, data protection and advertising.


The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (“OSCR”) has published the outcome of four appeals to the Scottish Information Commissioner about freedom of information requests made to OSCR.

Stephen Lloyd's Memorial Service

Stephen's memorial service will take place on the 21 January 2015 at 11.00am at St Martin in the Fields, Trafalgar Square.

There will be tributes from Stephen’s family, colleagues and charity leaders including Sir Tim Smit, founder of the Eden Project and Jonathon Porritt, environmentalist and activist, as well as anthems from the Choir of St Martins.

St Martins is a vibrant, open and inclusive church at the heart of London and a fitting place to celebrate and give thanks for Stephen’s life.

All are very welcome to attend. Please feel free to notify other networks, with no need to RSVP.

Posted on 02/12/2014 in Legal Updates

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