BWB Highlights

Happy New Year! We hope 2017 proves a good one for you and your organisation.

This review covers the 2 week period from 19th December 2016 to 3rd Jan 2017.


At a glance

The Charity Commission has published its annual report of compliance and investigatory work, and announced a consultation for the 2017 annual return.

The National Quality Board has published a new framework to help promote improved quality across all national health organisations.


Charity Commission

Consultation on annual return

The Commission has announced a consultation on content for the 2017 annual return. In particular, questions are asked about whether:

  • charities should keep the fundamental information up to date more regularly that annually
  • questions should be focused to match the Commission’s strategic priorities and targeted at the relevant charities
  • the regulatory burden can be lifted by making sure the annual return is more targeted and proportionate

This consultation closes on 9th March but is part of a two-year project to fundamentally review the key information that it collects and displays from charities. 

Charity governance

The Commission has published its annual report of compliance and investigatory work, Tackling Abuse and Mismanagement. The report confirms poor governance to be at the heart of much of the regulator’s case work this year, include high profile cases regarding fundraising and financial abuse. It identifies “the strategic vision, oversight and evaluation that a board of charity trustees should provide is not an ‘optional extra’ in a charity”. 

Inquiry reports

The Charity Commission has published inquiry reports into:

  • BIETEC Learning and Development Training Centre - The inquiry was opened following concerns about failure to implement proper separation between the charity and a private company called BIETTEC, which was owned and operated by 2 of the charity’s trustees.
  • Hospice Aid UK - The main issues here were the lack of spend on charitable activity, and the charity’s fundraising arrangements, which included a 7 year agreement with a fundraising agency which then failed to make the necessary Charities Act 1992 solicitation statements. 
  • Cavalier King Charles Spaniel Rescue & Welfare - The Commission opened an investigation into the charity after receiving a complaint from the executor of a will that a legacy of £382,460 had been left to the charity in 2005 and had not been recorded in the charity’s accounts.   The accompanying Commission press release includes a reminder of this 2013 Commission statement of its policy on restitution.  
  • REDAID - Issues here included:
    • That the charity was acting outside its objects.  It was advertising a loan to charity scheme on its website called ‘Re-Give’ which was set up as an Industrial and Provident Society and registered with the Financial Services Authority. It was intended to be an online platform where UK organisations with a social purpose could publicise their activities and invite ‘returnable donations’ or loans directly from the public. The Commission found that the charity’s activity in developing this scheme may not have been exclusively charitable. The inquiry found a lack of other charitable activity.
    • That the Chair’s personal funds had been paid through the charity’s accounts to enhance the charity’s cash flow when applying for grants.

The Commission has also published the following reports of recent inquiries into “double defaulting” charities ie charities that were in default of their statutory obligations to meet reporting requirements by failing to file their annual documents for 2 or more years in the last 5 years:

New inquiries

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into One Nation. The Commission has exercised its powers under section 84 of the Charities Act 2011 to direct the trustees to take certain actions. 

Charity Commission Trustee Declaration Form

BWB has picked up that the Commission has recently updated this form (although it is still marked as a January 2016 version). The updated form includes new wording confirming the trustee is not “disqualified from being a trustee by an order of the Charity Commission under section 181A of the Charities Act 2011”. Section 181A came into force late last year.   If your charity has modelled its own trustee declaration form on the Commission’s, you may want to similarly update your own forms.


Tax and VAT

In this year’s Autumn Statement, the Government announced that the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) would be undertaking a review of VAT.  The Terms of Reference have now been published and they include: 

  • The issues and impacts which would be involved if the VAT registration threshold were either higher or lower than at present;
  • The extent to which the definitions of the types of supply which are currently exempt from VAT, subject to a reduced rate or are zero-rated, fit the modern context, create complexity for businesses and administration;
  • The potential for simplifying the operation of partial exemption methodologies, the option to tax and the Capital Goods Scheme with a focus on the impact on smaller businesses;
  • The relative significance and impact of the issues identified on businesses of different sizes or in different sectors.

The OTS will publish a call for evidence in Spring 2017.   

New accounting/reporting requirements for large companies/partnerships

Certain large companies and partnerships which are public interest entities (banks, insurers, financial services and listed companies etc.) and have more than 500 employees will, for financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2017, have to include additional non-financial information in their management report.  Sufficient information will have to be provided to give an understanding of the company/partnership’s development, performance and position and of the impact of its activity, relating to, as a minimum, environmental, social and employee matters, respect for human rights, anti-corruption and bribery matters. In relation to these areas, the report must include:

  • a brief description of the business model;
  • a description of the company's policies in relation to those matters (including implemented due diligence processes);
  • outcome of those policies;
  • principal risks related to those matters linked to the undertaking's operations (including, where relevant and proportionate, its business relationships, products or services which are likely to cause adverse impacts in those areas and how the undertaking manages those risks); and
  • non-financial key performance indicators (KPIs) relevant to the business.

These new requirements have been introduced by the Companies, Partnerships and Groups (Accounts and Non-Financial Reporting) Regulations 2016 which have amended Part 15 of the Companies Act 2006. The Regulations also permit disclosure of this information on a voluntary basis.


Brexit

Political implications

The Political Studies Association has published a paper entitled Brexit: Six months on, covering the political implications of the Brexit vote.

Economic implications

According to the majority of economists taking part in an annual Financial Times survey, UK economic growth will slow markedly in 2017, household incomes will be squeezed by higher inflation and businesses will hold back on investment decisions because of uncertainty about Brexit. Please find the comprehensive survey here.

Environment

Professor Richard Macrory and the Welsh Government produced written evidence to the Parliament enquiry on Brexit: environment and climate change on 20 December. The evidence is linked below.

The Parliamentary Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) announced a second inquiry into the future of environmental law and policy following the result of the EU Referendum. The inquiry will focus on the future of the REACH Regulation 2006, which is one of several trade regulations that harmonise the placing on the market of chemicals. The deadline for submissions is 20 January 2017.


Fundraising

CAF has compiled these lists:


Social impact

See item under International development below.


Social finance

Government consults on single public financial guidance body

On 19 December 2016, the government published a consultation paper on its plans to create a single public body responsible for financial guidance. The new body would commission advice for those in problem debt, co-ordinate efforts to improve financial capability and provide information and guidance on pensions, financial scams and money matters. The government anticipates that the service will be launder no earlier than autumn 2018. The consultation paper is available here.

Key themes from the review of the FCA’s mission

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has released a list of key themes that have emerged from its consultation on its future mission. Analysis shows respondents have focused on clarity around the FCA’s future direction, appropriate protections for vulnerable customers, the balance between regulatory principles and rules, and more tailored communications with authorised firms. The review is open for comment until 26 January 2017, and can be accessed here. Also see item about social impact bonds under Housing and homelessness below.


Social enterprise

See here for the list of CICs registered in November 2016.

Pioneer’s Post has produced a summary overview of their biggest stories from 2016 (together with links to all the original articles), which includes a recap of Big Issue Invest’s successful closure of its Social Enterprise Investment Fund II fund in January with £21m committed to invest in “businesses with ambitious social impact goals”, as well as Pioneer’s Post survey from November setting out charities’, social enterprises’, social investors’ and other practitioners’ candid feedback on the usability of existing social impact measurement tools.

Also see under Mutuals below.


Mutuals

Research published in November last year, “Busting the Millennial Myth – the Power of Purpose”,  shows that employee ownership works well to meet the aspirations of the generation, and reveals that millennials value many characteristics of the employee ownership business model, such as profit sharing and personal development, more than previous generations did.


Children's services

Nine projects with plans to tackle specific forms of abuse affecting children have been awarded a share of government grant funding in 2016 to 2018, worth more than £2 million.


Health

The NHS Integrated Personal Commissioning (IPC) programme is a relatively new initiative for disabled people and people with long term health needs.  IPC joins up health, social care and other services, including the voluntary and charity sectors, to help people, carers and families have more control over their care needs.   As of December, it is now being rolled out to six new areas across England: Birmingham and Solihull, Nottingham City, Hertfordshire, Islington, Sheffield and Nottinghamshire.  

The National Quality Board has published a new framework to help promote improved quality across all national health organisations.

The Department of Health has published its response to the House of Commons Health Select Committee Report into the Impact of the Spending Review on Health and Social Care. The Health Select Committee's report, published on 19 July 2016, expressed significant concerns about the impact of spending cuts on health and social care services, and the ability of the government to meet its Five Year Forward View. The DH states that the challenges facing the NHS, as identified by the Select Committee, will be met by extra investment and "financial discipline". The DH has responded, in particular, to the following concerns highlighted by the Health Select Committee:

  • Payments to providers.
  • The impact of pressures in social care funding on health.
  • Health education funding.

The King’s Fund has published this blog on priorities for the NHS and social care in 2017.  

See here  for commentary from BWB’s Claire Whittle and Emma Dowden-Teale on the Care Quality Commission report, ‘Learning, candour and accountability', which considers how acute, community and mental health NHS trusts review and investigate the deaths of patients in England.


Housing and homelessness

Successful bids for the Government’s £25 million housing and technology fund have been announced.  The fund aims to improve the quality of life of people with learning disabilities by giving them independence, and helping them feel more included in their local community.  The local authority projects will focus on adapting existing housing, creating new accommodation and giving people support so they have more independence and choice.  

The Government has announced the successful bids for £50 million national government funding announced in October. This includes:

  • £20 million for Homelessness Prevention Trailblazers to pilot new initiatives to tackle homelessness in their area.  Proposals include a new Partnership Board to take responsibility for homelessness services across Birmingham, new dedicated teams to support vulnerable people leaving custody and hospital with no fixed address, and specialist early advice through Web chat, Skype and phone calls for anyone who thinks they might be at risk of losing their home.
  • £20 million in rough sleeping grants to provide targeted support for those at imminent risk of sleeping rough or those new to the streets.  For example Brighton have been awarded £352,344 to fund a Dual Diagnosis worker to support rough sleepers with both substance misuse and mental health needs.
  • Eight areas will benefit from a share of £10 million in locally commissioned Social Impact Bonds to help long-term rough sleepers with the most complex needs.  This funding will allow areas to trial a Housing First model, based on successful approaches pioneered in the United States.  Housing First is based on the principle that housing is an individual’s primary need, providing permanent accommodation for those currently sleeping on the street before addressing wider support needs. Pilots will form part of a wider evaluation of how a similar approach could be implemented in the UK, as part of a fresh approach to tackling homelessness.

See here for an article by BWB’s Neil Lambert about plans for changes at the Homes and Communities Agency.


International development

BOND has published this blog about the importance of impact.


Volunteering

new report from Ageing Better has found that the people likely to benefit most from volunteering are the least likely to get involved.  People aged 50 with fewer social connections, lower levels of income and education, and poorer health may have the most to gain from helping others. However, the people who are most likely to volunteer are those who are already relatively wealthy, in good physical and mental health, and with high levels of wellbeing and social connections.


Equality

The Office for Disability Issues are seeking business people to champion accessibility of products and services for disabled people.


Bribery Act

See here for a blog by Transparency International on “The Bribery Act – Five Years on”.


Intellectual property - playing sound recordings

A nightclub owner, Mr Miller, has been sentenced to three months’ imprisonment (suspended for 18 months) for failing to comply with a court order prohibiting him from playing sound recordings without a license. The music industry body, Phonographic Performance Ltd (PPL) brought the case.  Mr Miller was also ordered to pay damages, calculated at £3,577, which comprised of the missing license fee plus 5% interest.  He was also ordered to pay additional damages of £1,600 under section 97 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.


Scotland

In November, OSCR removed several charities from the Register on the ground that as they were inactive, they were not delivering public benefit and so did not meet the “charity” test.  The inquiry reports can be seen here.


Northern Ireland

In the ongoing charity Appeal brought by a trustee challenging CCNI’s registration of May Street Congregation of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the NI Attorney General has intervened (as in other charity appeal cases) to raise points about the powers of CCNI.  In this case, initially the AG argued that technically the statutory powers of CCNI do not extend to allow an officer of CCNI to make a registration decision – such a decision must be made by CCNI as a body corporate or by a subcommittee with appropriate delegated powers.  However, it later conceded that an interpretation of section 16(2) of the Charities Act (Northern Ireland), in its textual context, might allow an institution, such as the Congregation, to be added by an officer of the Respondent to the register of charities maintained by the Respondent.   The Tribunal has concluded that CCNI does have power to make the registration decision, so the appeal will progress.

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has launched a new blog ccni.blog which will offer information, updates and advice straight from the Commission’s management team.  The Commission’s first post Annual reporting – the next chapter for registered charities has been penned by the Commission’s Monitoring and Compliance Manager, Fiona Muldoon.


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

Senior Consultant

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Posted on 03/01/2017 in Legal Updates

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