BWB highlights

The Charity Commission has provided an update on its interim safeguarding taskforce. See today’s Briefing for details.

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At a glance

The House of Lords Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement has published its final report highlighting the areas in which the UK is currently successful in promoting a positive "civic journey" and making a series of recommendations for how it might improve.

A coalition of 65 organisations from across the care sector has called for an independent review into how leaving the EU will impact on social care.

The Cabinet Office and Civil Service have published a guidance note for civil servants ahead of the local elections to be held on 3 May 2018.

The Crown Commercial Service has published a consultation on how government should take account of a supplier’s approach to payment in the procurement of major contracts.

New Philanthropy Capital has published its mergers report “Let’s talk mission and merger”.


Charity Commission

Safeguarding

The Commission has provided an update on its interim safeguarding taskforce. The update includes some statistics, including that in February and March 2018, the Commission received 532 serious incident reports on safeguarding incidents, compared to 176 during the equivalent period in 2017. The Commission has opened 440 cases relating to safeguarding concerns raised in serious incident reports from charities, or complaints and whistleblowing reports which are being prioritised according to risk.

The update also includes details of the taskforce’s historic review of serious safeguarding incidents, which involves the analysis of 5,501 serious incidents reports dating from 1 April 2014 to 20 February 2018. Over half of those reports (around 3,300) have now been reviewed by the team; most of the incidents analysed to date relate to those reported in bulk by a small number of large charities. The purpose of this review is to identify any gaps in full and frank disclosure by charities, and to establish whether appropriate follow-up actions were taken by charities, including whether incidents were reported to other primary regulators or agencies. Once the work has concluded, the Commission will publish a report setting out the key findings and lessons for charities.

Statistics

The Commission has published a breakdown of inquiry cases opened and between 1 April and 31 December 2017 and operational compliance cases opened during the same period.


General

The House of Lords Committee on Citizenship and Civic Engagement has published its final report, highlighting the areas in which the UK is currently successful in promoting a positive "civic journey" and making a series of recommendations for how it might improve, including that:

  • The Government must re-prioritise Citizenship as a subject taught in schools, creating a statutory entitlement to citizenship education from primary to the end of secondary education, and set a target which will allow every secondary school to have at least one trained teacher.
  • The unemployed should be encouraged to volunteer by having their social security status clarified, and more must be done to recognise and reward outstanding contributions made by volunteering.
  • The voter registration process must be improved, in particular by adopting the scheme which allows voter registration to take place at the same time as registration at universities, further education colleges and, ultimately, perhaps schools.

Safeguarding

See under Charity Commission above.

Civil Society Media reports several witnesses have given evidence to the International Development Committee in Parliament that the Charity Commission does not have the resources to regulate safeguarding issues in the international aid sector.


Data protection

The House of Commons Library has published the Committee Stage Report on the Data Protection Bill.


ICO fines

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has been fined £120,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) after it unlawfully identified 943 people who owned vacant properties in the borough.

Two firms in West Yorkshire have been fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for calling people registered with the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). Bradford-based Energy Saving Centre Ltd, made seven million calls over a seven month period without screening them against the TPS register. The ICO has fined the firm £250,000 because at least 34,000 of these calls were made to TPS subscribers. In a separate case, Alex Goldthorpe, trading as Approved Green Energy Solutions, was fined £150,000 for making over 300,000 calls to TPS subscribers between April and July 2017.


Brexit news

Social care

A coalition of 65 organisations from across the care sector has called for an independent review into how leaving the EU will impact on social care. Groups are worried what the result of leaving the European Union (EU) will be in terms of recruitment and funding - and ultimately the ability to deliver crucial services. The issue is set to be discussed by the House of Lords over the coming weeks as part of its consideration of the EU withdrawal bill.


Education

Schools

See under General above.


Health

See under Brexit above.

Local Government Lawyer reports judgment is imminent on whether around 100 NHS trusts should be classed as charities, as many private hospitals are, thereby entitling them to 80% business rates relief, which would collectively save them £300 million a year.


Social finance

At the Euclid Summit 2019 in Netherlands, Triodos Bank and the European Investment Fund signed the first Social Entrepreneurship guarantee agreement under which Triodos is allowed to provide a total of EUR 65m to 430 social entrepreneurs over the next 5 years. The European Fund for Strategic Investments (the core of the Investment Plan for Europe) made this agreement possible.

Marcus Hulme (Social Impact Director, Big Society Capital), provides brief summaries of the different impact reports which have been published over the last few months. These include Social and Sustainable Capital Impact Report 2018, Bridges Fund Management Annual Impact Report 2017 and Nesta Impact Investments Annual Report.

Philanthropy Impact has published this article “Social investment: maintaining momentum and managing risk".


Social enterprise

See here for a list of community interest companies registered in March 2018.


Responsible business

CORE, and NGOs REDRESS, Kituo Cha Sheria and the African Coalition for Corporate Accountability, have written to Unilever CEO Paul Polman to express their concern with how Unilever is handling a case brought by tea workers in Kenya who suffered horrific abuses under their watch. Unilever UK argue that they have very little to do with their Kenyan subsidiary, and therefore were not responsible for the safety of its plantation workers. The case is due to go to trial at the Court of Appeal 24-26th April.


International development

See under Safeguarding above.


Volunteering

See under General above.


Elections and campaigning

See under General above.

The Cabinet Office and Civil Service have published a guidance note for civil servants ahead of the local elections to be held on 3 May 2018. The note applies to civil servants and the staff and members of non-departmental government bodies and other arm's length bodies, and provides guidance on their role and conduct during the local election campaigning period. The period of sensitivity preceding a local election is not codified, similar to the concept of 'purdah' more generally referred to in General Elections. The guidance restates that the general convention is that particular care should be taken in the three weeks preceding local elections, and reminds civil servants that during this period public resources are not to be used for party political purposes, and that care should be taken to preserve the political impartiality of the civil service. The note provides further specific guidance on a variety of topics, including handling requests for information, ministerial visits, public consultations, use of government property, and statistical and research activities.


Mergers

New Philanthropy Capital has published its mergers report “Let’s talk mission and merger”. It concludes merger has a negative reputation in the charity sector but it shouldn’t. This research, based on interviews with 50 charities, has found that mergers can be a powerful tool achieving more for causes. It sets out the different models of merger available, dispelling the myth that mergers are always takeovers and makes clear recommendations to charities, funders and regulators to enable more mergers to happen.


Public procurement

The Crown Commercial Service has published Prompt Payment by Government Suppliers, a consultation on how government should take account of a supplier’s approach to payment in the procurement of major contracts. The government wishes to gather views on whether it would be appropriate to exclude suppliers from major government procurements if they cannot demonstrate a fair, effective and responsible approach to payment in their supply chain management. The consultation closes on 5 June 2018.


Scotland

OSCR has published a video update on safeguarding from its Head of Engagement, Jude Turbyne. The video covers why safeguarding should be a priority for Scottish charities, what steps charity trustees can take, the upcoming summit on safeguarding and when further guidance will be available.

OSCR is holding a round of events across Scotland to give charity trustees and staff the opportunity to hear about its latest developments, meet OSCR staff and ask questions.

OSCR is publicising Volunteers’ Week Scotland, to be held from 1-7 June.


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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 24/04/2018 in Legal Updates

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