BWB Briefing for Charities and Social Enterprise

At a glance

The government has published the draft legislation to enable intermediaries to have a greater role in Gift Aid and digital giving.

NCVO is consulting on draft guidance advising charities to require trustees and senior staff to declare any party political activity undertaken in a personal capacity.

In December, Big Society Capital published the second report in its social investment insights series, “Health and social care and social investment”.

HM Treasury has published its response to the 2014 call for evidence about credit unions.

New Philanthropy Capital has published a report, “Questions of faith”, about how the role of faith-based charities in the charity sector is changing.

The Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) Regulations 2014 have been laid before Parliament.

Charity Commission

Has published what look like new “summary” pages about charities and permanent endowment.

Has published a decision made in relation to an application for a scheme by The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. The Scheme is to amend the objects of the charity to allow the charity to advance animal welfare as well as amending its power of investment and the provisions regarding auditing of accounts. The Commission has approved the draft scheme but because the Scheme involves changes to the provisions made in respect of the charity by statute, the scheme must now be laid before Parliament.

Has published the outcome of an internal review which confirmed a decision to institute an inquiry into the charity Revelation Foundation.

The Commission has published operational compliance case reports about:

Has published an inquiry report into Helping Hands for the Needy. The commission opened a statutory inquiry into the charity in August 2010 following engagement with the trustees and an examination of the charity’s financial information which indicated misuse of the charity’s funds. Unauthorised and inappropriate payments by the charity included payments for parking and speeding fines, and for building work on a trustee’s private residence.

Has published a report of its investigations and compliance case work in 2013-14. Some interesting statistics from the accompanying press release:

  • Out of the more than 164,000 registered charities, in 2013/14 1,929 experienced problems that prompted the commission to open either a statutory inquiry or a compliance case. The commission used its compliance powers 790 times in 2013-14, compared to 216 in 2012-13.
  • For the first time, the commission’s report includes an analysis of the types of charities that became subject to an inquiry or an operational compliance case in 2013-14.

Charity Tribunal

In relation to a recent Notice of Appeal filed by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Britain, the Tribunal has directed the Commission to answer whether it accepts a decision appealable to the Tribunal has been made, and if so whether the appeal is out of time.

Appeals brought by Patrick Shakespeare and Kathleen Atherton have been struck out because the prospect of success in the appeals fell “into the “fanciful” rather than “realistic” category of cases.” The appeals were against orders made by the Commission under s52 of the Charities Act 2011 requiring disclosure of information about Thrift Urban Housing Limited.

There in an interesting judgment refusing an application by David Jennings to appeal out of time against a Charity Commission decision to institute an inquiry into the charity Greenfinch Charitable Trust in 2013. The test under the 2011 Act for who can appeal against a decision to open an inquiry is narrower than the usual “person affected” test – and in this case, because Mr Jennings was not a trustee of the charity at the time the inquiry was opened, the Charity Tribunal concluded he does not have standing to bring an appeal. This is a particularly frustrating result for Mr Jennings as in other High Court proceedings, the Commission has argued that he was a de facto trustee of the charity from 2006 to 2009 which was a period being considered by the Commission as part of the inquiry.

There are several new cases in the Charity Tribunal:

  • The charity Legal Action has filed both an appeal and an application for review.
  • Wilfrid Vernor-Miles has filed an appeal, no details given.

Charity tax

The government has published the draft legislation to be included in the Finance Bill 2015 to enable intermediaries to have a greater role in Gift Aid and digital giving.


NCVO has published, for consultation, draft guidance advising that charities should require trustees and senior staff to declare any party political activity undertaken in a personal capacity. See “Upholding charities’ independence and reputation: NCVO recommendations for best practice”.

Also see item under Northern Ireland below.

Measuring Impact

New Philanthropy Capital has published “Economic analysis: what is it good for?” aimed at guiding charities through decisions about whether and how to undertake an economic evaluation of their work.

Social enterprise

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK picks his highlights from the past 12 months and looks ahead to 2015 in this blog.

Social investment

In December, Big Society Capital published the second report in its social investment insights series, “Health and social care and social investment”.

Social finance

On 18 December 2014, the European Securities and Markets Authority published two documents looking at investment based crowdfunding:


The International Cooperative and Mutual Insurance Federation has published a report outlining the findings of an independent review of mutuals in the UK carried out by Peter Hunt. The report makes 37 policy recommendations for increasing the contribution of mutual business to growth, prosperity and fairness in the UK.

Credit unions

On 31 December 2014, HM Treasury published the government response to its June 2014 call for evidence about credit unions. In the response, HM Treasury commits to consider potential changes to the legislation on credit unions in the next parliament "subject to the availability of an appropriate legislative vehicle". The response lists the areas that any legislative change might focus on, including credit unions' objects, common bond restrictions and the PRA's power to direct mergers. HM Treasury will consult with the credit union sector before committing to any specific changes.

Health and social care

See item under Social investment above.


On 19 December an updated version of the School Admissions Code came into force in England and the Department for Education updated its guidance documents on free schools admissions, to reflect the new admissions code and to clarify the guidance for free schools.

Work programme

Civil Society Media reports on a response document from the Department for Work and Pensions which indicates that the government has agreed to introduce measures expected to improve the Work Programme for voluntary sector subcontractors.

International development

BOND has published this very useful webpage with links to DFID operational plans per country setting out how will spend their allocated resources in each country.

Faith based organisations

New Philanthropy Capital has published this report “Questions of faith” about how the role of faith-based charities in the charity sector is changing.

Volunteer projects

The Centre for Social Action has announced £5.2 million of grants awarded to 34 volunteer-led programmes in communities across the country.

Human rights

Business Minister Jo Swinson has pledged government support, including £80,000 start-up funding, for a new human rights benchmark that will assess and rank the corporate human rights performance of international companies.


On 17 December, The Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASC) Regulations 2014 were laid before Parliament. They set some new criteria for registration as a CASC. Assuming the regulations are approved they will come into force from 1st April 2015. BWB Partner Thea Longley who has been involved with the HMRC consultation into these proposals, with sporting National Governing Bodies, comments: “I have concerns about the prescriptive nature of the criteria and the practicalities of implementing these changes; particularly the potential burden on volunteers who may need to collect additional information to demonstrate compliance. The draft HMRC guidance is awaited, which will provide more details on implementation. In the meantime clubs should wait to see the guidance – it is anticipated that clubs will be given a window of opportunity to de-register if they can no longer comply. Some clubs may, in due course, also want to consider registering as a charitable sports club instead of a CASC.“

Rehabilitation of offenders

See this press release about contracts signed by government with a number of charities and mutuals to provide services to offenders post-prison.

Company law

See item under Human Rights above.

Data protection / information 

On 1st Jan, the Freedom of Information Act celebrated its 10th birthday:

    • more than 100,000 public authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland ranging in size from central government departments to primary schools are now subject to the Act.
    • more than 400,000 information requests have been made since 1 January 2005.

Caerphilly council, which ordered covert surveillance on a sick employee, has been ordered to review its approach after an Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) investigation.

Pre-Christmas, the ICO issued this list of five top tips for protecting personal information.


A complaint about a leaflet for the National Anti-Vivisection Society has been upheld.

Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has published its latest report “Lessons learned: Focus on charity trustees” detailing some of the common concerns it has received about charities in Northern Ireland. The themes covered include ensuring your charity has sufficient trustee numbers, with one single person not dominant, as well as looking at longevity of trustees, the criteria for trusteeship and adherence to governing documents.

Posted on 08/01/2015 in Legal Updates

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