BWB Highlights

The Cabinet Office has issued a call for evidence on how to support mission-led businesses over the next decade.

Save the date! Our Annual Charity and Social Enterprise Tea Party will be held on Thursday 22 September.


At a glance

The Fundraising Standards Board has published its report into telephone fundraising practices at Go Gen.

The European Commission is making EUR 2.150.000 available to further fund ‘actions to boost the demand and supply side of the finance market for social enterprises'.

The Universities White Paper was published last week.

The government has announced that UK sports bodies and organisations that want to receive public funding will have to adhere to a new Code of Governance being drawn up by UK Sport and Sport England.

Better for the Country Ltd, best known for campaigning under the name Leave.EU, has been fined £50,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office for sending 500,000 texts to people without their consent.


Charity Commission

New statutory inquiry

The Commission has announced that it has opened a statutory inquiry into Nanaksar Thath Isher Darbar(1025988), a charity for the advancement of the Sikh religion. The issues the inquiry will examine include: administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees; financial controls and management of the charity; and whether or not the trustees have complied with and fulfilled their duties and responsibilities as trustees under charity law.


Tax and VAT

HMRC has published an updated version of its form to notify changes to a charity’s significant information.

Charity Finance Group, Institute of Fundraising, National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Small Charities Coalition have submitted a joint response to the government's consultation into simplifying the Gift Aid Donor Benefit rules. The recommendations include:

  • reducing the number of thresholds from three thresholds to two thresholds to simplify the donor benefits system. 
  • endorsing the introduction of a disregard for low value benefits to help small charities.
  • recommending that charities should have a requirement to inform donors about the amount of Gift Aid claimed on their donations only upon request. 
  • supporting the proposal to legislate for the inclusion of the rule that literature being considered of inconsequential value for the purposes of the donor benefits system in legislation. 
  • widening the scope of this benefit to include other forms of benefits, such as apps, toolkits and other materials that may be used to help the charity advance its charitable objects. 
  • recommending that the government changes the valuation process from the value to the donor to cost to the charity.

The submission from Charity Tax Group is here.


Governance

See item under Sport below.


Brexit

The UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) has published a Brexit webpage, which aims to inform the debate on whether the UK should remain or leave the EU. UKELA takes a neutral position on the issue. The page includes specific summaries of the potential implications for waste, climate change and nature conservation law.  

Also see item under Data protection below.


Anti Corruption Summit

On 12 May 2016, the Prime Minister announced that foreign companies will not be able to buy UK property, or bid for central government contracts, without joining a public register of beneficial ownership information. Foreign companies that already own property in the UK will also be required to join the register.  No date has been given for when this will be brought into force.  

A new Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub is being set up which will “connect social innovators, technology experts, and data scientists with law enforcement and civil society to share best practice and innovative techniques in tackling corruption.” The UK is also introducing an additional conviction check to ensure that individuals and companies convicted of corruption-related offences, such as bribery or fraud, are effectively prevented from winning public contracts. As part of this commitment the UK will work with key international partners to improve information sharing and flag bidders with relevant convictions.

See here for comment from Bond and CAF.


Fundraising

FRSB adjudication

The FRSB has found Go Gen, British Red Cross, Macmillan, NSPCC and Oxfam to be in breach of the Code of Fundraising Practice. The key findings included:

  • while all four charities had monitoring procedures in place, they were not sufficient or adequately carried out to monitor GoGen’s delivery of their telephone fundraising campaigns appropriately.
  • GoGen was found to have breached the Code clause that prohibited exploitation of vulnerable people when one fundraiser advised another to secure a donation from a potentially vulnerable individual. The agency was also in breach of the Code when advocating the use of pressurising techniques during fundraiser training sessions and for failing to make clear that the purpose of telephone calls was to seek financial support.
  • the FRSB did not uphold additional allegations against the four charities, which included a failure to use solicitation statements or to impose TPS restrictions. The Code in use at the time enabled charities to contact TPS-registered donors if they judged that their relationship with those donors was sufficient, but advised caution in using this approach. 

The FRSB noted that the charities had improved their practices since the activities which were the subject of the adjudication had taken place. They have also issued recommendations to further improve future standards of telephone fundraising practices, including:

  • that the Code of Fundraising Practice is amended to require a solicitation statement to be delivered before a potential supporter provides their bank details, enabling supporters to make a fully informed decision before they donate.
  • the development of a standardised best practice benchmark for charities’ monitoring of telephone fundraising agencies.
  • that a new Code requirement is introduced for written agreements between charities and third-party fundraising agencies to cover how the charity intends to monitor the conduct of that agency.

The full report can be accessed here. See here for comment from IOF. Victoria Schneider, Senior Associate at BWB, commented that "this is a judgement by FRSB at its strictest. Some may view the findings against the charities themselves to be unduly harsh, though it is clear that Go Gen acted improperly and charities have a duty to ensure their telephone (and other) fundraising agencies behave appropriately." 

NCVO “Opt-in” working group

Civil Society Media reports the Chair of this group has published 10 principles for contacting donors - the principles are listed in the article These ten principles will guide the group’s final recommendations.  The finished proposals will first be submitted to NCVO’s board of trustees for sign off. They will then be submitted to the Fundraising Regulator and included in any updated Code of Fundraising.

Gift Aid

See under Tax and VAT above.


Commissioning

See under Equality for a recent case considering the impact of the Public Sector Equality Duty.


Social finance

The European Commission is making EUR 2.150.000 available to further fund ‘actions to boost the demand and supply side of the finance market for social enterprises'.  The Call for Proposals is addressed to social finance or support partnerships that assist social enterprises to:

  • realise innovative solutions with a clear societal impact, or
  • scale their innovative approach through growth, or
  • replicate or adapt their models.

CASS Business School has published a guide to social investment.


Social enterprise

The Cabinet Office has issued a call for evidence on how to support mission-led businesses over the next decade. The consultation closes on 8 July. Peter Holbrook, the chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, hasquestioned why the Cabinet Office has not included charities and social enterprises in the scope of its review and has expressed the view that the advisory panel does not have enough experts on it and that the review should be being back by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.


Education

Early years

The Department for Education has published a consultation on potential changes to disqualification arrangements for childcare workers under the Childcare Act 2006 in England.  The disqualification criteria currently include where someone lives in the same household where another person who is disqualified lives or is employed; "disqualification by association”.  The consultation is looking at three options relating to removing or retaining "disqualification by association" in order to ensure greater fairness.   

Schools

This is the government announcement of a change in policy on the forced academisation of schools.  

Universities

The white paper, Success as a Knowledge Economy, was published last week. The reforms include:

  • Making it easier for new institutions to become universities
  • Consulting on whether it should be easier to students to move from one course to another
  • A commitment to excellent teaching

Environment

See item under Brexit above.


Sport

The government has announced that UK sports bodies and organisations that want to receive public funding will have to adhere to a new Code of Governance being drawn up by UK Sport and Sport England.  A Charter for Sports Governance in the United Kingdom was published last week.  It outlines some of the main themes that will feature in the code that will be finalised later this year and come into effect in 2017.


Philanthropy

CAF has urged the new London Mayor to strengthen the city’s position as the ‘world’s philanthropy capital’.


Data protection

Better for the Country Ltd, best known for campaigning under the name Leave.EU, has been fined £50,000by the Information Commissioner’s Office for sending 500,000 texts to people without their consent.  

A claims management company that made 17.5 million calls asking people if they had suffered hearing loss at work has been fined £250,000 by the ICO. 

We now know the date the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) will apply in all member states - 25 May 2018.   


Equality

The High Court has held that a planning inspector acting on behalf of the Secretary of State failed to have due regard to the public sector equality duty (PSED) under section 149 of the Equality Act 2010.  The claimants successfully obtained an order quashing the Inspector's decision granting planning permission in respect of an office and warehouse building that would replace a car park next to the River Mersey. SeeLDRA and others –v- Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.

The Government has launched a call for evidence as part of the review into increasing progression in the labour market by people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds. The aim of the call for evidence is to establish the obstacles faced by people from BME communities in the labour market. The call for evidence will close on 22 August 2016.


Human rights

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched “Business and human rights:  a five-step guide for company boards”.  The guide is aimed at helping directors show leadership in ensuring their businesses fulfil their responsibility to respect human rights.  

The House of Lords European Union Committee has published a report on the UK, EU and a British Bill of Rights.


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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 17/05/2016 in Legal Updates

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