BWB Highlights

BWB Partner Abbie Rumbold spoke at the annual Charity Law Conference last week about the impact of Brexit on the charity sector.  See here for a summary by Civil Society Media.  


At a glance

The Charity Commission has published new guidance “Making digital work: 12 questions for trustees to consider”.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has launched a new code of practice which sets out how organisations should explain to people how they’re using their personal information.

The Education Secretary has launched a £60m social mobility package.

The Open University Business School has launched a Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership.


Charity Commission

Inquiry Report

The Commission has published its inquiry report into the Bangladeshi Parents and Carers Association (1082770), a charity running day care centres for people with learning, physical and sensory disabilities.

The inquiry was opened following the submission of a serious incident report in 2012, which said that the charity had been the victim of financial mismanagement as well as an alleged fraud committed by the charity’s former finance manager and chair. A review conducted by the charity found that there had been unauthorised expenditure of £104,296 with no evidence of an audit trail and that the charity’s reserve account had reduced from £812,486 to £80,933 with no explanation.  The Commission sought assurances from the trustees that they had taken advice on the possible recovery of funds from the former finance manager. Legal advice taken by the trustees advised that it would not be feasible to seek recovery because the former finance manager now resides abroad. The commission will continue to monitor the governance of the charity.

Inquiry Update

The Commission has issued a statement about current progress in its ongoing inquiry into the charity Afghan Heroes (1132340), which was opened in November 2013 and has previously been the subject of media interest. The Commission appointed an interim manager (IM) in February 2014 to take over the management and administration of the charity and the actions taken by the IM (which include progressing a claim against the charity’s former professional fundraiser) are summarised in the charity’s annual report for the year ended 31 December 2015, which has now been published. The Commission has also removed the two remaining trustees of the charity by exercising its powers under s.79(2)(a) Charities Act 2011; they are now disqualified from acting as charity trustees. The Commission has said it cannot comment further on the circumstances surrounding the removal of the trustees while the inquiry is still ongoing.

New guidance

The Commission has published a new piece of guidance called “Making digital work: 12 questions for trustees to consider”.  The guidance consists of sets of example questions that trustees should be considering when approaching issues around digitisation, including in relation to fundraising, governance, brand and service delivery.


Tax and VAT

The Court of Appeal has upheld the High Court decision that the Coulter Trust, a trust with only charitable purposes as a matter of English law, but established under and subject to Jersey law with Jersey trustees, did not qualify for charitable exemption from inheritance tax under section 23 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984 (IHTA 1984) because it was not governed by UK law but by Jersey law.  

Civil Society Media reports the Charity Finance Group and Charity Tax Group have expressed concerns about some of HMRC’s key proposals to make it easier for donations through intermediaries to attract gift aid.


Governance

This week the Open University Business School (OUBS) is launching its new Centre for Voluntary Sector Leadership (CVSL).  The Centre provides voluntary sector organisations with access to free and flexible leadership development courses and research-led insight “to help strengthen the core of the sector at a time of unprecedented uncertainty and challenge”.


Brexit

Exit process

Article 50 and the Great Repeal Bill: Prime Minister announcement on timing

The Prime Minister Theresa May announced at the Conservative Party conference on 2 October 2016 that Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union will be triggered before the end of March 2017, and that the next Queen's Speech will include a Great Repeal Bill, to repeal the European Communities Act 1972.  Assuming that Article 50 is triggered as planned under Royal prerogative, then the timing will be as follows:

  • By the end of March 2017: Article 50 to be invoked and the two-year formal negotiations for withdrawal from the EU to commence.
  • Next Queen's Speech (April or May 2017): the Great Repeal Bill is introduced.
  • First quarter 2019: the UK formally leaves the EU and the Great Repeal Bill takes effect, before the next European Parliament elections.
  • The Parliamentary European Union Committee continues its inquiry on “Brexit: UK-Irish relations”, taking evidence from UK Government Ministers on the cross-border relationship during negotiations and following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The inquiry will take place on 11 October at 4pm and can be accessed on Parliament TV.

Fundraising

Fundraising Regulator

A reminder you can sign up for monthly updates from the Fundraising Regulator here.

Payroll giving

Last week saw the launch of the Geared For Giving campaign.  See here for a speech by Rob Wilson MP launching the campaign.  

Legacies

In a recent legacies case involving The Royal Society, the High Court has construed a reference to the United Kingdom contained in the scope clause to an English will as including the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, thereby avoiding a partial intestacy in respect of the testator's bank accounts in Jersey and the Isle of Man.    

Also see the inheritance tax case above under Tax and VAT.


Social finance

Big Society Capital has invested a further £5 million in the share capital of Charity Bank. This is the second tranche of Big Society Capital’s commitment to invest up to £14.5 million in the ordinary shares of Charity Bank. This further investment from Big Society Capital will allow it to make more loans to social sector organisations in the coming years.  

Santander Bank has teamed up with Crowdfunder to launch a new £200,000 fund to support social enterprises and community projects across the UK.


Social enterprise

See under Social finance above.

On Wed 26th Oct, CASS Business School is running a talk on “Social Enterprise - can it work better for you?


Education

The Education Secretary has launched a £60m social mobility package.  Six areas, identified as the most challenged when it comes to social mobility, will have access to funding to “address the biggest challenges they face. Opportunity areas will see local partnerships formed with early years providers, schools, colleges, universities, businesses, charities and local authorities to ensure all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential”.  The first opportunity areas will be West Somerset, Norwich, Blackpool, Scarborough, Derby and Oldham, before the programme is widened out to other parts of the country in the coming months.

The House of Commons Library published a briefing paper on grammar schools in England.


Environment

See under freedom of information below. 


International organisations

The European Commission has published a Delegated Regulation (EU) 2016/1675 which identifies high-risk third countries with strategic anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing deficiencies.  The identified countries include Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Guyana, Iran, Iraq, Lao PDR, Syria, Uganda, Vanuatu, Yemen and Democratic People's Republic of Korea.  This regulation supplements the Fourth Money Laundering Directive.   

BOND has published this blog “Beyond buzzwords, do community foundations offer an alternative to top-down development?


Volunteering

Civil Society Media reports the Office for Civil Society is looking at ways to create more incentives for full time volunteering projects.


Procurement and State Aid

On 29 September 2016, the European Commission published a policy brief on state aid transparency. The policy brief explains that, under EU state aid rules, aid granted to companies must be transparent. This means that aid must be easy to detect in order to subject it to public scrutiny. Specific provisions under the State Aid Modernisation programme require granting authorities at all levels to provide information about individual aid awards above EUR500,000.

On 30 September 2016, the European Commission announced its decision that Lithuania's planned public support to Science and Technology Parks does not constitute state aid as the public support will be fully transferred to start-up small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the Science and Technology Parks are not themselves beneficiaries of state aid. Further, the pass-on of the public support is designed so as not to distort competition between the providers of support services for the SMEs.   

Also see under Scotland below.


Data protection

Last week the Information Commissioner’s Office launched a new code of practice which sets out how organisations should explain to people how they’re using their personal information.

Telecoms company TalkTalk has been issued with a record £400,000 fine by the ICO for security failings that allowed a cyber attacker to access customer data “with ease”.  The ICO’s in-depth investigation found that an attack on the company last October could have been prevented if TalkTalk had taken basic steps to protect customers’ information.


Freedom of information

The First-tier Tribunal (Information Rights) has held that a council could not rely on an exception provided by the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 to justify refusing to disclose financial data relating to a proposed wind turbine development scheme.  The exception the Council wanted to rely on related to adverse effects on the confidentiality of commercial or industrial information where confidentiality is provided by law to protect a legitimate economic interest.


Scotland

new procurement framework for the provision of IT consumables will, from 1st November, be available to all charities registered in Scotland.


Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, in partnership with the Developing Governance Group, is running a series of free seminars across Northern Ireland this autumn on charity regulation and good governance. For further information, see here.


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Disclaimer - The information contained in this update is not intended to be a comprehensive update - it is our selection of the website announcements made in the week up to last Friday which we think will be of interest to charities and social enterprises. The content is necessarily of a general nature - specific advice should always be sought for specific situations.


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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 11/10/2016 in Legal Updates

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