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At a glance

A Private Member’s Bill to give charity trustees the right to unpaid time off work has had its first reading in parliament.

The Fundraising Regulator has announced changes to its funding levy for the years Sept 19/20 and Sept 20/21.

A new group has been set up to help students manage mental health challenges at university.

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has launched a new online application process to register as a charity in Scotland.


Charity Commission

Open letter requesting Tribunal reference on investment duties

Last week we reported on the launch of a coalition seeking a landmark judgment on responsible investment. Luke Fletcher, Partner in our Charity team, comments that "We have been delighted with the response to the request for a new landmark judgment on responsible investment. The coalition has over the course of a week doubled in size - its members now own approximately £2billion of assets, represent over a million individual members and represent over 14,000 civil society organisations. It has been encouraging to hear from the Charity Commission that it is sympathetic to the call for greater legal clarity on trustee investment duties, as well as an acknowledgement that public opinion on responsible investment has moved on in recent years.

Annual Public Meeting

The transcript of Baroness Stowell’s speech at the recent Annual Public Meeting of the commission has been published. The speech focused heavily on the theme of public expectations of charities as well as discussing the commission’s new strategy which comes into effect next month.

The speech from CEO Helen Stephenson (which has not been published) has also generated some headlines in the sector press, as it was reported that she said that the commission was struggling to meet demand from the sector due to its lack of resources and that it appears that the proposed consultation on charging for its services had now been delayed due to Brexit, see here.

Inquiries

The commission has published its inquiry report on Ghulam Mustafa Trust (1157588) a charity for the prevention or relief of poverty or financial hardship in Pakistan. The charity was identified for a compliance visit from the commission following complaints about a video posted on the charity’s Facebook page that was alleged to be inappropriate and offensive.

The commission has published its inquiry report into One Nation (1156200) a charity for the relief of financial hardship of people living in any part of the world. The commission says that its concerns started before the registration of the charity in 2014. The commission continued to engage with the trustees and eventually opened a statutory inquiry in November 2016 to address concerns relating to: the administration, governance and management of the charity by the trustees with specific regard to decision making and managing conflicts of interest, including around the decision to employ a trustee in a senior management position; due diligence by the trustees in respect of the charity’s agents and partners, including its connections with the organisation Live Updates From Syria. The inquiry concluded that there was misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity but that there are signs that the trustees have now taken steps to strengthen the charity’s administration, governance and management.


Governance

A Private Member’s Bill to give charity trustees the right to time off work has had its first reading in parliament. The Charity Trustees (Time Off for Duties) Bill 2017-19 would give trustees the right to request unpaid time off from work.

Civil Society Media reports that a study of the annual reports of 85 charities with income above £5m has found that just under half have adopted the Charity Governance Code.


Brexit

General

Third Sector has published this podcast on the practical, social and funding effects Brexit could have on the voluntary sector. Jane Thomas from the Brexit Civil Society Alliance together with Jo Cox Foundation chief executive Catherine Anderson and John Tizard, chair of NAVCA speak on: How does the sector mitigate against, and respond to the impacts of Brexit? How will a no deal affect the communities and beneficiaries that the voluntary sector supports? How can we ensure that civil society voices from across the UK are heard in the Brexit process?

Fundraising

The Government has responded to a written question on whether charity shops can continue to sell second hand goods with a CE label in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The written question by Toby Perkins (Chesterfield, Labour) was answered by Secretary of State Kelly Tolhurst. Her response confirmed that the Government has announced a time-limited continuity approach to minimise disruption to businesses and consumers. This will mean that CE marked goods, whether new or second hand, can continue to be sold in the UK as long as those goods were compliant at the time they were initially placed on the UK market, and are still safe.

Health

The King’s Fund has published this blog on Brexit’s implications for health and social care in England.

Trademarks

The Intellectual Property office has published new guidance on changes to trademark law if the UK leaves the EU without a deal in place. The guidance covers: the impact of leaving the EU without a deal on UK right holders, businesses, and other organisations.


Data protection

The Department of Culture, Media and Sport has published “Guidance on the application of Article 36(4) of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) “. Article 36(4) requires public authorities in the UK to consult with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) on any proposals for legislative or statutory measures they are developing which involve the processing of personal data. The guidance sets out a process by which public authorities should consult with the ICO to effectively meet the principles of this requirement.

Also see under Health below.


Fundraising

See under Brexit above.

Fundraising Regulator

The Fundraising Regulator has announced changes to its funding levy for the years Sept 19/20 and Sept 20/21. From September 2019 the FR will:

  • Continue to base the levy on total fundraising spend
  • Decide which levy band a charity falls into based on the information they provided in their most recently filed accounts (up until now the FR has used fundraising spend data from 2014 accounts)
  • Introduce two extra bands at the lower end of the levy so that smaller charities move up the scale more gradually. Charities with a fundraising spend of £200,000 - £350,000 a year will be asked to pay £500, and charities with a spend of £500,000 - £750,000 will be asked to pay £1,000.

Larger higher education institutions and arm’s-length bodies will continue to pay a flat rate levy of £1,000. Registration for charities below the levy amount will remain at £50 per year. The costs of registration for non-charities will also stay the same.

The FR has also published this blog “Behind the scenes with the levy team”.


Education

Schools

The Department for Education has announced 3,500 new school places are being created for children with special educational needs or those facing additional challenges in mainstream education. Applications will now open in 39 local authorities to find providers - including community groups, teachers, charities, existing education providers and other organisations - that will run them.

Higher education

New figures have been published showing drop out rates by institution.

A new group has been set up to help students manage the challenges in university which can affect mental health.


Health

See under Brexit above.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a blog: Why the right of access to patient data needn’t be a headache for GPs. The ICO has also published a statement on TPP SystmOne changes.

Health Minister Nicola Blackwood has announced up to £56 million funding for research into health challenges arising from climate change.


Public services contracting

New Philanthropy Capital has published a “Snapshot” from a focus group about public sector contracts. It includes that:

  • Subsidising contracts is happening more and more often as commissioners put out tenders which are unrealistic to deliver at the price they offer and the quality charities want.
  • Some charities may be sleepwalking into risky contracts.

Social finance

Big Society Capital has published this blog on 3 actions that could help to unlock the potential of SITR, and sharing an open source deals database and calling for further data.

The Access to Cash Review has published its report on the UK’s movement to a cashless society. Among other recommendations, the report urges that accepting cash should remain affordable for retailers, charities and small businesses, and that suppliers should remember their wider societal responsibilities to vulnerable customers, who may not be able to participate in a cashless society. This may be of interest for those working on issues relating to trading in the sector. A Third Sector article summarises and comments on the key findings of the report: Make accepting cash more affordable for charities, review says.

Pioneers Post reports on the Government’s upcoming announcement about changes to public sector procurement to take account of the social impact created by the business that supply the sector. This may be of interest for those working on procurement issues in the sector, or matters related to charity trading.


Scotland

OSCR has launched a new online application process to register as a charity in Scotland. The existing pdf application form will still be available until it is withdrawn on 1 April and applications on the pdf form will be accepted until 30 April. After that date, the new online process must be used.


Northern Ireland

The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland has issued public notice of its intention to remove five named charities from the NI register of charities, which are believed to be no longer in operation. This is the first time CCNI has taken action to potentially remove charities from the register.


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Christine Rigby

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Posted on 14/03/2019 in Legal Updates

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