BWB Highlights

BWB has published its submission in response to the Financial Conduct Authority call for evidence in relation to regulatory barriers to social investment. See today’s Briefing for more details.

At a glance

The Charity Commission has announced that there will be a new look and feel of the Annual Return for 2016, which will be launched in April.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published “12 steps to take now” to prepare for the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

The government has published two strategies outlining its plans for social investment in the UK and overseas – a domestic strategy and an international strategy setting out how the government plans to develop the UK as a global hub for social investment.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is warning political campaigners to keep within the law after fining David Lammy MP £5,000 for making nuisance calls.

Compact Voice has released the report on its latest annual survey of local Compacts.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has published guidance for charities about the EU Referendum.

Charity Commission

Annual return 2016

The Commission has announced that there will be a new look and feel of the Annual Return for 2016, which will be launched in April. One confirmed change in the new version is the need to confirm that charity information including contact, trustees, email addresses and charity activities is up to date before completing the rest of the 2016 form.

Charities at risk of online extortion

The Commission has published regulatory guidance under s. 5(2) Charities Act 2011 about online extortion or ‘ransom’ demands currently affecting UK businesses. Charities have been told to look out for demands from a group calling themselves ‘RepKiller Team’, who demand between £300 - £500 in Bitcoins by a certain date and time, otherwise they will launch a cyber-attack against the organisation and damage its reputation by automating hundreds of negative reviews online. The Commission’s advice where a demand is received is to:

  • NOT meet their demands and NOT pay the ransom
  • make a report to Action Fraud and retain the original emails (with headers)
  • make a note of any attack, recording all times, type and content of the contact

Case report

The Commission has published a case report into Bhagavat Educational Trust (1072206).

New Commission blog

The Charity Commission has started a new blog about its work. The first blog is from William Shawcross, about the changes at the Commission. The news story about the blog can be found here.


The text of a speech made by Sarah Atkinson of the Charity Commission at the Bond Conference on 7 March has been published, where Sarah discusses issues around public trust and confidence in charities.

Funding the Commission

NAVCA, the Charity Finance Group, the Small Charities Coalition and the Association of Charitable Foundations have written to the Treasury to call for proper funding for charity regulation. The letter says it is a false economy to cut the Commission's budget, which has roughly halved in real terms since 2008 and has fallen by £8m since 2010.

Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill

This is the text of a speech given by former Law Commissioner, Elizabeth Cooke, about her involvement in the drafting of the new charity social investment powers in the Bill.

Charity Tribunal

new appeal has been filed by the 1Click Charitable Trust, no details available yet. 


The Commission on the Donor Experience held a launch event last week.  See this Civil Society Media summary.  

Also see item under Advertising below.

Data protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published “12 steps to take now” to prepare for the EU General Data Protection Regulation.  

Also see item under Campaigning below.  

Grants - Anti-lobbying clause

NCVO has asked the Cabinet Office five questions about how the new anti-advocacy clause on grants would be applied.  See here for the answers which include that the clause will apply to ring-fenced funds which are delivered by LAs on behalf of a government department.

Social investment

UK government strategy for social investment

The government has published two strategies outlining its plans for social investment in the UK and overseas – a domestic strategy and an international strategy setting out how the government plans to develop the UK as a global hub for social investment.  

Barriers to social investment

As you may know, the Financial Conduct Authority has been conducting a call for evidence in relation to regulatory barriers to social investment.  BWB has made submissions on:

  • Setting up a new Social Economy Commission as the registrar and regulator of non-charitable social enterprises
  • Framing guidance for financial advisors to ensure they explore whether investors have impact objectives when investing
  • Reform of the financial promotions regime to assist charities and CICs in raising small amounts of investment from supporters

BWB Partner Luke Fletcher comments ““Financial services regulation was not designed with social investment or civil society organisations in mind. We are asking the FCA to reform the law to make it easier to register social enterprises, to enable charities and social enterprises to raise small amounts of investment from their supporters and to make sure that financial advisers always ask investors whether they would like to see positive social and environmental impact in their investment portfolios.”

Social finance/financial services

Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) feedback statement on regulatory barriers to innovation in digital and mobile solutions

On 9 March 2016, the FCA published a feedback statement on its call for input on regulatory barriers to innovation in digital and mobile solutions (FS16/2).  Responses centred on the following themes:

  • Communications – how FCA rules on consumer communications apply to digital and mobile solutions
  • Customer due diligence (CDD) for the purposes of anti-money laundering (AML) checks - how regulation interacts with digital identity and verification
  • Payments systems and services
  • Data storage, privacy and data protection
  • Financial advice - how the definitions of services may impact innovation
  • Regulation and its relationship with technology

Financial Market Advice Review report

The Financial Market Advice Review which began in 2015 has published its final report. The review has found that there is a clear need for intervention by the regulator and the government to help both consumers and industry benefit from new and more cost-effective ways of delivering high quality advice and guidance.  The recommendations fall into 3 key areas: affordability, accessibility and liabilities and consumer redress.

Social enterprise

The Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs):

Also see item under Health and social care below.


The ICO is warning political campaigners to keep within the law after fining David Lammy MP £5,000 for making nuisance calls. Mr Lammy instigated 35,629 calls over two days, playing a recorded message that urged people to back his campaign to be named the Labour party candidate for London Mayor.  Calls that play a recorded message must only be made to people who have given the organisation their permission to receive this type of call.  The ICO investigation found Mr Lammy did not have such permission, and so had broken the rules set out in the Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations.

Also see item under Scotland below.


The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a report “Is England Fairer? The state of equality and human rights in England 2016”. 



The Department for Education has published updated guidance on admissions and referral arrangementsfor free schools.  

Also see item under Company law – Names below.


The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on public libraries in England.

Health and social care

The King’s Fund has published “Bringing together physical and mental health, a new frontier for integrated care”.  

E3M has published this Big Society Capital blog “Capital for growth: Meeting the needs of social enterprises delivering health and care”.  

Women and girls' services

To mark International Women's Day, the Government announced a new £80m strategy to prevent violence against women and girls.  

Hospitals across England have been awarded a share of government funding to invest in new maternity safety equipment.  

Local authority commissioning

Compact Voice has released the report on its latest annual survey of local Compacts.  According to the accompanying press release, this year’s results “paint a cautiously optimistic picture for local partnership working. They show that the Compact continues to be a valuable mechanism for cross-sector engagement, especially with the new commissioning bodies that have emerged in recent years”.

Community rights

See this press release celebrating 5,000 uses of community rights leading to over 3,000 buildings, green spaces and other local assets being protected.


Following the scandals surrounding FIFA and the IAAF, the European Commission will be inviting all sporting federations in the continent to commit to criteria for good governance standards. Speaking at the EU Sport Forum, Tibor Navracsics, commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport at the European Commission, said that he would launch the initiative during the European Week of Sport in September.

Company law


The government is considering whether foreign companies that wish to buy land or property in England and Wales should be under a similar obligation to UK companies that will from 6 April 2016 have to keep a register of people with significant control or declare that there are no such people.  BIS has published a discussion paper. The closing date for responses is 1 April 2016.

Company names

Newcastle College has obtained an order from the Company Names Tribunal that Newcastle College International Ltd change its name.  The case was undefended.

Red tape review for local businesses

Earlier this month the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced a "root and branch review" of local authority regulation of businesses.


The Advertising Standards Authority has upheld a complaint that a TV advertisement for Guide Dogs for the Blind breached BCAP Code rule 16.3.4 which states “Advertisements seeking donations for … a charitable body must not address fund-raising messages to children or [be] likely to be of particular interest to them”.


See item above under Company Law - Transparency. 

Modern Slavery Act

A group of civil society organisations have collaborated to produce guidance for businesses “Beyond Compliance: Effective Reporting under the Modern Slavery Act.  The guidance “provides ideas on how companies can respond effectively to the new provision by linking the wider due diligence needed to eradicate human trafficking, forced labour and slavery from their supply chains to their reporting”. The guidance will be updated to reflect leading practice in this area as more companies take action.

CORE has published this press release commenting on the first 75 company reports which include compliance statements under the Act.


OSCR’s EU Referendum Guidance

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has published guidance for charities about the EU Referendum. The guidance explains that a charity registered in Scotland can take part in the EU referendum debate if it can show that:

  • doing so is advancing the charitable purposes
  • its governing document does not prohibit such activity
  • the charity is not advancing a political party, and
  • that the charity’s trustees are acting in the charity’s interests, and with due care and diligence.

The guidance is different to the Charity Commission’s EU referendum guidance published last week and is less restrictive in a number of key areas.

Banking guidance

OSCR has worked with the British Bankers’ Association (BBA), the Charity Finance Group (CFG) and other voluntary sector partners to publish a leaflet containing banking guidance for Scottish charities. The guidance provides information on banking, including choosing and opening the right bank account, understanding banking charges and fees, and how to switch accounts.  The document – which builds on an existing BBA leaflet applicable to England and Wales - also sets out key questions to ask banks, and options available to charities.

Northern Ireland

Thematic reports and case studies

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland  (“CCNI”) has recently added a further four reports and case studies to its suite of thematic reports, available in the Charity essentials section of the regulator’s website. The latest additions are as follows.

  • Regulatory case study: Using professional fundraisers.
  • Regulatory case study: Calling an Annual General Meeting.
  • Why is evidence so important?
  • Disqualified trustees.    

Inquiry Report

An interim statutory inquiry report has been published by CCNI into the Disabled Police Officers’ Association Northern Ireland (DPOANI) which marks the closure of CCNI’s statutory inquiry relating to serious governance issues:  The Commission has taken the unusual measure of publishing an interim report in this case to indicate to the public that the statutory inquiry has closed and good governance has been restored to the charity. Following the conclusion of some ongoing litigation matters, the Commission expects to publish a further, more detailed inquiry report.

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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 15/03/2016 in Legal Updates

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