BWB Highlights

Urgent lobbying on Charities Bill

BWB, ACEVO, BOND, CFG and DSC have briefed MPs urging them to table ten amendments to the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill. The collective view of the group is that some of the powers in the Bill lack sufficient safeguards and threaten the independence of charities. If you are in agreement, please circulate the briefing to your MP, local contacts and anyone else who can assist. The second reading is scheduled for 3rd Dec. See here for more details.


At a glance

The Spending Review included a freeze to the Charity Commission’s funding until 2020, which means discussions are likely to continue about charities part funding the Commission. 

The government has announced that loans offered through crowdfunding platforms can be held in ISAs from April 2016, and debt securities issued by companies and offered through platforms will be included from autumn 2016. 

The Financial Conduct Authority has published updated guidance on its registration function for community benefit societies.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched a direct marketing video which follows one person’s journey, from entering a competition to win a holiday to being inundated with nuisance calls.

The Advertising Standards Authority  has upheld a complaint about a fundraising post on the Facebook page of Knights Templar International.


Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill

The second reading of the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill in the House of Commons is scheduled for 3 December.  BWB, ACEVO, BOND, DSC and CFG have briefed MPs outlining a number of serious concerns about some of the new powers to be given to the Charity Commission, and suggesting ten amendments to the Bill.  The collective view is that some of the powers lack sufficient safeguards andthreaten the independence of charities, and should therefore be amended or deleted.  Click here for a summary and here for the full briefing.

If you are in agreement, please circulate the briefing to your MP, local contacts and anyone else who can assist. The second reading is scheduled for 3rd Dec.


Charity Commission

The Spending Review included a freeze to the Charity Commission’s funding until 2020.  See the Commission’s response which includes a statement from William Shawcross along the lines that he will still pursue discussions with charities about charities part funding the Commission. 

Civil Society Media reports Peter Clarke, the Charity Commission board member with anti-terrorism expertise, has stepped down from his role as board member of the Charity Commission after accepting a position as chief inspector of prisons.

Has published a case report about a scheme made for the charity Lacewood School.


Governance

ICSA, the professional governance body, has announced the launch of a new charity governance certificate for trustees and charity leaders. ISCA says the course has partly been launched as a response to a number of charity scandals over the summer.


Fundraising

Olive Cooke

Civil Society Media has this report about a leaked copy of the draft FRSB report, which it says will not now be published till the New Year. FRSB has published this short comment “In response to an article published today by The Independent, the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB) confirms that its investigation into charity fundraising practices and charity communication received by Mrs Olive Cooke is ongoing and that no investigation report has been published at this time. “  

Fundraising advertisements

The Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”) has upheld a complaint about a post on the Facebook page of Knights Templar International dated 25 August 2015.  The post stated “This is why we have Templars on the ground in Hungary. Chaotic scenes at the border with Greece, as migrants attempt to clamber on board packed trains You can help our Mission ...remember, if we do not stop them over there the west will be flooded... The ASA considered that readers would understand from the claims in the ad that KTI had, at the time it appeared, members in Hungary carrying out work related to KTI and that donating to them would contribute towards that work. Although KTI provided photos which indicated that at some point individuals identifying themselves as KTI observers (via their jackets) had visited Hungary, the photos were undated. Further, no evidence had been provided relating to the organisation’s work in Hungary to demonstrate that at the point the ad appeared KTI had members in Hungary carrying out KTI work, nor was there any evidence that donating funds to KTI would contribute towards activities in Hungary. The ASA therefore concluded that the claims were misleading. The ASA flagged as learning points the KTI must not make similar claims again unless they can be substantiated by evidence.

Also see items below under Data protection and Scotland.


Social finance

The government has announced that loans offered through crowdfunding platforms can be held in ISAs from April 2016, and debt securities issued by companies and offered through platforms will be included from autumn 2016.  HMG has also committed to talking further about including equity investments, but no date has been set yet.  The full consultation response from HMG is here.

Last week Social Finance and Kin Capital announced the launch of the first UK- wide fund to take advantage of the new Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR).  The £3 million Bright Futures SITR Fund will invest in charities and social enterprises working to improve the lives of children, young people and vulnerable groups across the UK.   

Big Society Capital has published this summary of last week’s Crowd Match Fund workshop. 


Social enterprise

See here for Social Enterprise UK’s response to the Spending Review. 


Education

There has been a high court ruling on the new religious studies (RS) GCSE curriculum. The case related to a particular paragraph which suggested that a school could rely entirely on the content of an RS GCSE syllabus to discharge its obligations with respect to teaching the basic curriculum subject of RE at key stage 4. The judge found that whilst that might be the case, it might not always be the case - and so it was wrong.


Health

The UK’s first Dementia Research Institute will receive up to £150 million to drive forward research and innovation in fighting dementia.


Community benefit societies

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which is the regulator of Community benefit societies, has, over the last year, carried out two consultations on its registration functions.  It has now published:  

  • Summary of Feedback received to the  two consultations together with the FCA’s responses; and

Faith based organisations

See item under Education above.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has issued this comment on a Christian advert being banned in a cinema. 


International development

Nick Hurd MP has been appointed as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for International Development, replacing Grant Shapps.


Animal welfare charities

The Law Commission has published its final report on its review of wildlife law, together with a draft Wildlife Bill implementing its recommendations. It is not clear whether the current government intends to bring the draft Wildlife Bill forward, as the review was requested by the preceding coalition government.


Charities with a local authority as a trustee

See item below under Freedom of Information.


Data protection

Last week the Information Commissioner’s Office:

  • issued fines totalling £250,000 to cold calling blocking companies and PPI claims firms   for data protection breaches; and
  • launched a direct marketing video which follows one person’s journey, from entering a competition to win a holiday to being inundated with nuisance calls.

Freedom of information

The First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) (FTT(IR)) has held that Beccles Town Council must disclose a barrister's opinion and advice regarding land it holds in trust for the people of Beccles. The Tribunal rejected the Council’s argument that section 42 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) exempted the privileged advice and opinion from disclosure. The Tribunal held this was a "rare and exceptional" case in which the public interest lay in favour of disclosure of the advice and opinion. The fact that the council held the land in trust for the people of Beccles was highly relevant, especially since there was clear evidence that predecessor councils had treated the land as if they owned it.


Scotland

Civil Society Media reports John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), has claimed that the Scottish charity sector will have its own fundraising regulator, which will not include a Fundraising Preference Service.

OSCR has created a new ‘charity registration’ logo which charities can use on their website to show the public that the charity is entered in the Scottish Charity Register – the logo should link directly to the charity’s entry in the Register.


Stephen Lloyd Awards 2016

Applications for the Stephen Lloyd Awards will open in the next coming weeks!

Read an update from one of the 2015 Winners, Energy Local, who has found a means for a community to pool their local generation, use it directly and benefit from time of use prices.

Using a Community Energy Services Company (CESCO) the community’s half-hourly smart meter readings are grouped together and any local renewable generation is netted off. CESCO enables a community to obtain the true value of their local generation by pooling it within their community and have different prices for power at different times of the day using 'time of use' tariffs.


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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 02/12/2015 in Legal Updates

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