BWB Highlights

The Charity Commission has issued a survey to 19,000 trustees to understand their views on the challenges they face in their role. See today's Briefing for more details. 

The first event of BWB's Breakfast Serial 2017 takes place tomorrow. In these seminars, we distil the expertise of our sector-leading charity lawyers into bitesize learning. See below for more events in the rest of the series. 


At a glance

ICSA and the Investment Association are to publish joint guidance to assist boards in improving their engagement with, and understanding of the views of, their employees and other stakeholders.

A multi-million pound package to support children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) has been announced.

The Fundraising Regulator has sent out its January newsletter.

New Philanthropy Capital has published a briefing paper on how trustees can support their charity’s fundraising.


Charity Commission

Annual Public Meeting

The Commission has published some further information about its presentations at last Monday’s Annual Public Meeting. The publications include the text of William Shawcross’s speech and the slides from the main Commission presentations. One of the presentation slides includes information about the trustee awareness research project announced at the meeting. "Along with the Cass Business School and the Cranfield Trust, we will report on our research to determine trustees’ awareness of their duties and obligations (Spring 2017):

  • We are issuing a survey to 19,000 trustees to understand their views on the challenges they face in their role
  • Why? An in-depth understanding of the current state of charity trusteeship and who our trustees are
  • Enable the Commission and wider society to know whether current expectations of trustees are appropriate and how they can best be supported to fulfil their roles”.

Charity Commission Trustee Declaration Form

This has been amended a few times in recent months and at one point there was more than one version appearing online.  The latest version dated January 2017 can be found here.

Chief Executive

Civil Society Media is reporting that Paula Sussex has decided not to seek an extension of her three year term as Chief Executive of the Commission, which expires in June, and that the Commission has already advertised the position.

Inquiry Report

The Commission has published its inquiry report into Masoom (1124976), a relief of need charity operating internationally, including in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Pakistan and Syria. The Commission concluded that there had been evidence of misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity, including that the trustees:

  • Were not keeping sufficient accounting records to explain the charity’s transactions and activities
  • Were not properly managing the charity’s relationship with overseas agents, meaning they could not evidence/account for the proper end use of the charity’s funds
  • Failed to comply with the terms of the charity’s governing document and under charity law in respect of keeping accounting records
  • Did not implement and follow the charity’s own Financial Management and Controls Policy
  • Did not properly discharge their legal duties as trustees under charity law - they failed to act in the best interests of the charity or with reasonable care and skill

The powers used by the Commission during the case included making an order under section 84A of the Charities Act 2011 directing the trustees on a number of issues including not to represent through its website that the charity operates/fundraises for activities in Syria unless they can provide sufficient evidence to the Commission that they can comply with their legal duties under charity law, their governing document and policies/procedures.   

BWB's Augustus Della Porta comments, "The report demonstrates the strict approach the Commission is taking on charities operating in high risk areas, particularly Syria, and their expectations of organisations operating in these areas."


Tax and VAT

The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on the Small Charitable Donations Bill which is due to receive Royal Assent shortly.  


Charity governance

See under Corporate governance, Fundraising and Scotland below.


Brexit

MPs on the cross-party Exiting the European Union Committee have concluded that the Government should publish its Brexit plan by mid-February at the latest. This should set out its position on membership of the Single Market and the Customs Union. Ministers should also seek an outline framework on the UK's future trading relationship with the EU as part of the Article 50 negotiations – including appropriate transitional arrangements – if it is not possible to reach a final agreement by the time the UK leaves the EU. The Committee also wants the Government to commit to Parliament having a vote on the final Treaty. The conclusions can be found here, and you can access the full report here.  

Theresa May has previously announced her commitment to guarantee workers’ existing EU-derived legal rights, although no detail has been given as to how this will take effect. Against that backdrop of uncertainty, there have been calls to pass legislation to guarantee those rights officially. Melanie Onn, MP, last week presented her Private Members’ Bill (Workers’ Right (Maintenance of EU Standards) Bill) to the House of Commons for its second reading. A copy of the Bill can be found here.

Also see under Social Finance and Arts below.


"Shared Society"

There have been a number of responses to the Prime Minister’s announcement last week of her “Shared society” agenda.  See below for comment from:


Fundraising

Fundraising Regulator (FR)

The FR has published this guest Blog “Better partnerships needed between finance and fundraising teams” by Andrew O’Brien. 

The FR has sent out its January newsletter which includes:

  • The FR plans to “work with the ICO to produce helpful guidance for charities to use to ensure compliance with current and future legislation on consent and data protection” but no further information is given. 
  • There is a blog (first published in December) by the FR Chief exec Stephen Dunmore about criticisms of the Fundraising Preference Service proposals.  
  • The FR will be launching the consultation for changes to be made to the Code of Fundraising Practice at the beginning of February (probably on 8th Feb), and will look to close it at the end of April. During this time, it will be holding webinars and attending several events with key stakeholders across the country, to discuss the proposed changes and encourage formal response to the consultation.

Telephone fundraising

BT has announced a new service for BT customers to divert suspected nuisance calls to a junk mail box.   In addition, if a nuisance call gets through, the home owner can dial a number after the call and that will block any more calls from that number.  

Trustees and fundraising

New Philanthropy Capital has published a briefing paper on how trustees can support their charity’s fundraising.


Social finance

The Social Stock Exchange are hosting their Annual Investor Conference on Wednesday 1 February at the Dutch Hall in the City.  For those interested in attending, registration is free and can be accessed here.

Mutual Guarantee Societies Bill introduced to Parliament

On 10 January 2017, the Mutual Guarantees Societies Bill 2016-17 received its first reading in the House of Commons. The bill is a private member’s bill, and is sponsored by Christina Rees, Labour MP for Neath. Mutual guarantee societies provide financial guarantees to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in order to help them access funding. The Bill aims to reduce the regulatory burden that applies to these societies, making them easier to establish and supervise. The transcript of the parliamentary session can be accessed here.

TheCityUK sets out key financial services priorities for Brexit negotiations

The financial services industry body, TheCityUK, has published a paper setting out its priorities for the sector in forthcoming Brexit negotiations. These include transitional arrangements to prevent a sudden ‘regulatory cliff edge’, a long-term framework for UK-EU mutual market access, mutual agreements on marketing, dealing and products, and a regime for recognising and enforcing UK judgements in the EU, and vice-versa.


Social impact

See under Philanthropy below. 


Social enterprise

See under Shared Society above.

The government has responded to a question in the House of Lords about what assessment the government has made of the value of social enterprise to the United Kingdom economy.  See here for the response. 

The government’s representative for small businesses has published a blog setting out how the government is making it easier for small businesses to win government contracts. 


Education

Early years

The government has confirmed a list of successful projects benefitting from grants worth £50 million, which will help to deliver the government’s 30 hours free childcare offer.  

SEN

multi-million pound package to support children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) has been announced.    

See under Equality below. 


Health

Following a request from Theresa May, the Care Quality Commission is to review children and adolescent mental health services nationally.

NAVCA has fed in to NHS England’s process of renewing the guidance for CCGs on public and patient involvement.  See here for more information.


Philanthropy

Philanthropy Impact has published articles on:


Arts

Ministers have said Britain’s world-class museums, galleries and theatres will play a key role in promoting the country abroad post Brexit.


Corporate governance

The Financial Reporting Council has published a report on the impact and implementation of the UK Corporate Governance and Stewardship Codes during the last 12 months. 

ICSA and the Investment Association have announced that they are proposing to publish joint guidance (in the second quarter of 2017) to assist boards in improving their engagement with, and understanding of the views of, their employees and other stakeholders.  Also see under Scotland below.


Equality

From December 2016, the Equality and Human Rights Commission published a report on whether the law on religion or belief is working, pursuant to its duty under the Equality Act 2010 to monitor the effectiveness of equality and human rights legislation.

Also see under Scotland below.


Data protection/information

The ICO has:

  • fined Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance PLC (RSA) £150,000 following the loss of the personal information of nearly 60,000 customers.  An ICO investigation looked at the theft of a hard drive device containing 59,592 customers’ names, addresses and bank account details including account numbers and sort codes. The device also held limited credit card details of 20,000 customers
  • Published this blog about nuisance calls, in which it says a further £2m in fines are in the pipeline.

Scotland

OSCR has updated its inquiry report on Scotia Aid Sierra Leone (SC041617) following the Court of Session granting OSCR’s motion to remove the charity’s two remaining trustees from any role in the management and control of the charity, and appoint a  permanent Judicial Factor. The order for removal has the effect of permanently disqualifying the individuals concerned from acting as charity trustees of any charity.

OSCR is highlighting that charities and community amateur sports clubs in Scotland can now apply for the 2017/18 Water and Sewerage Charges Exemption Scheme.

The Scottish Government has issued a consultation on the draft Gender Representation on Public Boards (Scotland) Bill (GRPB Bill).  The consultation document notes that women are under-represented in political, civic and public life at senior levels and in boardrooms (making up 24% of local government councillors in Scotland, for example). As part of its drive to realise women's equality in Scotland, the Scottish Government intends that the GRPB Bill will require positive action to be taken to redress gender imbalances on public sector boards. It is intended to apply to non-executive appointments to the boards of Scottish public authorities. 


Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland is creating a list of approved trustees who can be called on to provide assistance in a charity either on a short or long term basis – and is looking for interested parties to apply. There is no suggestion the trustees would be paid.


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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 17/01/2017 in Legal Updates

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