BWB Briefing for Charities and Social Enterprise

At a glance

HM Treasury is appealing to the public for suggestions and "innovative ideas" to include in the Budget on 18 March 2015.

The Commission on the Future of Local Infrastructure has published a report of its findings.

The Electoral Commission has issued its 13th update for Non-party campaigners.

New Philanthropy Capital has published “Having their say: what the public likes and dislikes about charities”.

Research commissioned by CAF shows fewer than one in 10 workers are given time off to volunteer.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has published its first statutory inquiry report.


Charity Commission

Has published:

  • Its operational compliance case report into the charity, The Priory of England and the Islands of the Order of St John (“the Priory”). Given some on-going complaints about the restructuring of St John’s Ambulance (a subsidiary charity of the Priory), the Commission decided to look at whether the decisions to restructure were properly taken – they were - and whether the new governance structures are democratic, accountable and within the law – they are.
  • The latest version of CC News which contains articles on:
    • the new SORPS
    • fundraising
    • how to file your charity’s annual information.

The National Audit Office has published a follow-up report to its December 2013 report on the regulatory effectiveness of the Charity Commission. This latest report concludes; “the Commission has made good, early progress in addressing all NAO and Public Accounts Committee recommendations and developed a credible change programme. However, much hard work and significant challenges lie ahead.” Comments on the report made by Sarah Atkinson, Director of Policy and Communications at the Charity Commission, included:

“However excellent our guidance, we will never again be able to provide the scale of one-to-one support to charities that we did in the past.

We need charities to recognise that our role as their regulator is not to champion and defend their interests. Our role is to serve the public by holding charities to account and challenging them to meet the expected standards of governance, probity and accountability."


Draft Protection of Charities Bill

All the written evidence submitted to the Parliamentary Committee reviewing the Bill can be reviewed here.


Tax and VAT

HM Treasury is appealing to the public for suggestions and "innovative ideas" to include in the Budget on 18 March 2015. The department has released guidance for those interested in commenting on, or suggesting, policy for inclusion. Submissions should be sent to HM Treasury by 13 February.


General

The Commission on the Future of Local Infrastructure has published a report of its findings. The main finding is that “local infrastructure needs to be redesigned and creatively resourced to meet the challenges of tomorrow”.


Campaigning and political activity

The Electoral Commission has issued its 13th update for Non-party campaigners. It covers a general update and a reminder on record keeping.

Civil Society Media reports the Charity Commission has cleared RSPB following two complaints that it was breaching campaigning rules.

The National Council of Independent Action has said new research reveals that “charities and other voluntary groups are often absent from campaigns to tackle the root causes of poverty” because “voluntary groups, especially those under contract to government, face threats to remain silent about their experiences and many are fearful to speak out in case they lose their funding or face other sanctions.

New Philanthropy Capital has published “Having their say: what the public likes and dislikes about charities”. Civil Society Media reports the research shows that how charities spend their money and what they do are more of a concern for the public than fundraising methods.


Social investment

Last week, Rob Wilson, Minister for Civil Society made this speech about social investment at the Social Investment and Public Services Conference.

The Charities Aid Foundation’s social investment arm, CAF Venturesome, has invested £375,000 in two Social Impact Bonds (SIBs) to help young people in the UK out of homelessness.


Right to challenge

The list of organisations that can submit an expression of interest to deliver local authority services (through the right to challenge in the Localism Act) is to be expanded to include “Business Improvement District bodies”.


Education

The Office of the Schools Adjudicator (OSA) for England has published the Chief Schools Adjudicator's annual report for September 2013 to August 2014. The report confirms that the largest part of the OSA's work concerned school admission arrangements (accounting for 275 of the 351 new cases referred).

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has unveiled new professional standards for headteachers in England. See this Department of Education press release about financial and other support for the new computing curriculum.


Health and social care

The Department of Health has published guidance setting out how commissioners and providers of care services should protect vulnerable adults.


Volunteering

Research commissioned by CAF shows fewer than one in 10 workers are given time off to volunteer.


Community Transport

The Department of Transport has published guidelines for local authorities on EU state aid rules when making payments to community transport operators.


Fundraising

See item under Campaigning above.


Data protection / information

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a report highlighting how organisations attached to the Victims Services Alliance (VSA) are looking after people’s information in compliance with the Data Protection Act (DPA).The VSA is a national network of 69 charities and voluntary groups who work with victims of crime. The report provides an overview of the ICO’s findings from examining the data protection practices at five VSA organisations and the results of a data protection survey responded to by 27 representatives from other VSA members.


Procurement and state aid

In an interesting attempted application of the procurement rules, the High Court has dismissed a claim by Edenred (UK Group) Limited challenging HM Treasury's decision that the government's new tax free childcare scheme will be administered by National Savings and Investments (NS&I) via a private company (Atos). The High Court found that there was no contract between NS&I and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) or HMT in relation to the delivery of these services – and there being no contract, the procurement regime was not triggered.

See item under Community Transport above.


Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has published its first statutory inquiry report. The report relates to the charity Lough Neagh Rescue Ltd which provides a volunteer rescue service on Lough Neagh on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) and HM Coastguard. During the course of the inquiry, the Commission issued an order for the removal of a named individual as a trustee of Lough Neagh Rescue Ltd, with further orders to remove five of his colleagues as agents/officers and as members of the charity. All of the orders were appealed (unsuccessfully) by the recipients to the Charity Tribunal.


Stephen Lloyd's memorial

Thank you to everyone who came to Stephen’s Memorial service last week. It was a joyous celebration of Stephen’s life and a fitting tribute. For more information about the recently launched Stephen Lloyd Awards see here and to read about the tributes at the service see this Civil Society Media article and this article in Third Sector.


Posted on 27/01/2015 in Legal Updates

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