BWB Highlights

The Commission has published draft guidance on “Grant funding an organisation that isn’t a charity”. This follows in the wake of the Cage judicial review of the Charity Commission. BWB urges both charity and non-charity clients potentially affected by the guidance to send comments to the Commission.

BWB's Rosamund McCarthy will be speaking at NCVO's Breakfast Session on the EU Referendum. See below for more details.

Thank you to all who completed our survey! Your comments will feed into a new and improved BWB Briefing. Congratulations to Barbara Martin who was our winner of the Get Legal voucher.

At a glance

The Treasury has begun a consultation on simplifying the Gift Aid donor benefit rules.

Two firms (non charities) have received significant fines totalling £150,000 from the Information Commissioner’s Office for making nuisance phone calls.

Big Society Capital has launched a new website to help charities understand social finance more easily.

The Cabinet Office has published guidance for directors of companies wholly or part owned by the public sector.

Charity Commission

New guidance on grants to non-charities

The Commission has published draft guidance on “Grant funding an organisation that isn’t a charity”. Although the guidance will not be subject to a formal consultation, the guidance has been published in draft so that comments can be made by charities and their advisers to inform the final version. The deadline for doing so is 8 April 2016. The Commission says that this guidance is taken from other existing guidance rather than representing any new regulatory requirement.  The guidance includes sections on:

  • Establishing whether another organisation is or is not a charity
  • Understanding your charity’s purposes
  • Risk assessment and assurance
  • Setting the terms of the grant
  • Monitoring
  • Situations where extra care and scrutiny are needed

BWB's Rosamund McCarthy comments "It is helpful that the draft guidance recognises important principles relating to trustee discretion and proportionality. The guidance could, however, be augmented with more detail relating to the funding of individuals, social enterprises (particularly in relation to private benefit) and public or quasi-public bodies as well as overseas entities. The BWB response to the consultation will also argue that the section of funding core costs is not a correct statement of the law, and this is a very important area that requires clarification". 

Registration Decision - Living Out

The Commission has published its Decision to register the Evangelical Christian organisation Living Out as a charity. The organisation was initially refused charitable status in May 2015 but following a decision review has been accepted onto the Register of Charities with revised objects. Also see this Commission statement about the decision.

Statement  -  Responsible Gambling Trust

The Commission has issued a brief statement about the charity Responsible Gambling Trust and says that it is currently assessing whether there is any regulatory role for the Commission. This is in response to concerns raised in the media about the charity’s connections to the gambling industry.

New charities taxonomy

The Commission and the Financial Reporting Council have launched the new taxonomies for charities reporting under the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland (FRS102). The option to file accounts by PDF will remain but the commission notes the popularity of digital filing by companies with Companies House and wishes charities to benefit from having this accounts filing option too. 

Tax and VAT

The Treasury has begun a consultation on simplifying the Gift Aid donor benefit rules. This follows a call for evidence last year.  The proposed simplifications include:

  • Simplifying the current monetary thresholds that are used to determine the amount of benefit that can be given for a Gift Aided donation (what is known as “the relevant value” test) – either by reducing the number of thresholds, or replacing the thresholds with a test whereby the value of total benefits is offset against the value of the donation, with Gift Aid only available on the difference.
  • Introducing a disregard for low value benefits
  • Withdrawing the lifetime benefits concession

The closing date for the consultation is 12 May 2016. 

HMRC has introduced a new online form for notifying changes of details for charities already registered with HMRC. 


See item under Tax and VAT above.

Data protection

Two firms have received significant fines from the Information Commissioner’s Office for making nuisance phone calls:

  • a Manchester company, MyIML, was fined £80,000 for cold calling people registered with the Telephone Preference Service.  
  • West Midlands firm which made thousands of nuisance phone calls in the middle of the night has been fined £70,000.

Social finance

Big Society Capital has launched a new website to help charities understand social finance more easily.

Public sector bodies

Last month, the Cabinet Office published guidance for directors of companies wholly or part owned by the public sector. The guidance covers director's duties and managing conflicts of interest. 

Child protection

There are a number of different definitions in use by different sectors/agencies in respect of child sexual exploitation. The Department of Education are consulting on introducing a standard definition as follows:

‘Child sexual exploitation is a form of child abuse. It occurs where anyone under the age of 18 is persuaded, coerced or forced into sexual activity in exchange for, amongst other things, money, drugs/alcohol, gifts, affection or status. Consent is irrelevant, even where a child may believe they are voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with the person who is exploiting them. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact and may occur online.’

The government is proposing to bring the revised definition into effect on 1 April 2016 and including it within the statutory guidance, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’.


The Department for Education has updated its guidance, “Establishing a new school: free school presumption”. The guidance, which is intended for local authorities and new school proposers and sets out how the free school presumption process should operate in practice, has been updated to include the addition of a local authority specification form, a proposer application form and model criteria for new schools.


The government has made a number of announcements about new funding of mental health services, including:

  • a £1.5 million fund to help young people develop mental health support networks, online advice and workshops.
  • an extra £1 billion to be invested in mental health care by 2021 and “a million more people to get mental health support”.       

Sir Stephen Bubb has published a further report into the treatment of people with learning disabilities.  The report calls for the appointment of a Learning Disabilities Commissioner.   

Nesta has published this report “At the heart of health:  Realising the value of people and communities”   

This is an interesting King’s Fund report on the number of volunteers working in health and social care.


The House of Commons Communities and Local Government Committee has published a report onhousing associations and the right to buy. The Committee's report highlights a number of serious issues with the government's proposals to extend the right to buy to housing associations, particularly relating to how the extension will be financed in the light of the lack of official costings.  

The Local Government Ombudsman has published a report on the role of councils in allocating social housing.   

The Minister for Housing and Planning has announced in a written ministerial statement that the Homes and Communities Agency will be reviewed.  The review will examine, among other things, the continuing need for the agency and how its functions contribute to the government objectives, whether each function and the agency is still required and the best future delivery options.

Public procurement

The Cabinet Office has published a Procurement Policy Note explaining how contracting authorities can ensure compliance with wider international obligations when letting public contracts. According to the Cabinet Office press release, the note is aimed at stopping “inappropriate procurement boycotts by public authorities”, in particular “Town hall boycotts” which “undermine good community relations, poisoning and polarising debate, weakening integration and fuelling anti-Semitism”.


The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has published this blog about the SCVO Working Group looking at the future of fundraising in Scotland (which we mentioned in last week’s Briefing).

Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland (“CCNI”) has announced that it is developing an updated online charity registration application form, which is expected to replace the current online form towards the end of April, and is strongly encouraging current applicants who have been called forward to register as charities to complete and submit their registration application before 31 March. CCNI has published FAQsin connection with the new form.

CCNI is also undertaking research into how its register of charities is used and is asking for responses to an online survey.

The current 100% rates relief for charities in Northern Ireland is under review - see this NICVA article about the effect any change could have on charities.  

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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 24/02/2016 in Legal Updates

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