Welcome to February’s newsletter.

The Covid-19 crisis has demonstrated that social capital is the glue that binds communities together. Over 4,000 mutual aid groups emerged to fill the gaps in supporting many vulnerable groups and numerous faith communities have provided infrastructure to alleviate the immediate problems of lockdown. Charities remain an effective tool in bringing people together and although we have not yet emerged from lockdown number three, this past year has served as a reminder of the importance of the third sector.

Equality, diversity and inclusivity; time to do more
At the end of 2020, The Charity Governance Code was updated or “refreshed” as it is termed on its website. One key feature of this refreshing was a focus on Principle 6; previously called Diversity and now extended out and called Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. A timely inclusion most would agree given the events of the last 12 months. The killing of George Floyd and the support for the Black Lives Matter movement, coupled with the disproportionate effects of Covid-19 on our BAME community, have demonstrated that our society is still one with deep divisions, inequalities and prejudices. We have come so far as a country with our anti-discrimination legislation and focus on diversity, but there is still a long way to go. 

Read the full article here.

Employee burnout
New research has shown that employee burnout in the charity sector is one of the biggest risks emerging from the current pandemic. Loss of funding, alongside the new challenges of remote working, means that employees are often attempting to do more with less. Employers have an obligation under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of their employees. Our regulatory team have recently written an e-briefing detailing the steps employers can take to identify and mitigate work-related stress. You can read this here

Our employment team have also released their winter newsletter covering the latest Covid-19 employment news and key employment themes post-Brexit, which you can access here.

Good management of financial affairs
The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into a Birmingham community organisation following the transfer of £200,000 from the charity to a trustee’s personal bank account. In a statement, the charity stated this was because it did not have a bank card in its name and that it had since produced receipts to the Commission showing no misconduct. 

However, this serves as an important reminder to trustees on how to manage a charity’s resources and financial affairs in addition to maintaining compliance with their general legal duties and responsibilities. Ensure that your financial policies are clear and that charity assets are kept separate from the trustee’s personal assets.

Exception from registration set to continue
Whilst historically excepted from the requirement to register, congregations of certain Christian denominations in England and Wales have been required to register with the Charity Commission if their annual income is above £100,000 for some time. The remaining exception for church charities with annual incomes between £5,000 and £100,000 was due to have been lifted on 31 March 2021 but on 19 January, the Charities (Exception from Registration) (Amendment) Regulations 2021 were laid before parliament and will come into force on 31 March 2021 - meaning an extension of the exception from registration for a further ten years until 31 March 2031. 

Make use of the youth job creation scheme
The Government’s Kickstart Scheme provides funding for six-month job placements for 16 to 24-year-olds at risk of long term unemployment. Since its launch in September, it has said to have created more than 120,000 roles across all industries, however, its requirement for organisations to have a minimum of 30 vacancies to be eligible, excluded many charities from taking part. Now that this requirement has been removed, it makes the scheme much more accessible for the benefit of both charities and the young people involved.

For further information please see information on the Government’s website.

Faith groups’ role in the vaccine rollout
There are concerns over the high degree of vaccine hesitancy among black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities. Data published by the Royal Society for Public Health suggested that 57% of BAME UK residents would accept the vaccine, compared with, say, 79% of the white British population. Many Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders have stepped up by either providing congregants with accurate medical information or offered their buildings to become vaccine centres. Faith groups are playing a key role in encouraging communities to take part in the rollout in addition to tackling misinformation and ‘fake news’.

Charity Commission’s executive pay report axed
The regulator has axed plans to publish its report on executive pay in the voluntary sector, which was due to be released last year. Following criticism of Marie Stopes International’s Chief Executive receiving a £434,500 pay package in December 2019, the regulator announced plans to report on top-level pay. In any event, in 2019, it became compulsory for Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs) and all other charities with annual incomes of more than £10,000 to specify how many members of staff received pay in excess of £60,000 per year in their reporting.

For more information

If you would like more details about anything in this newsletter please speak to your usual ACS contact or contact Sarah Tomlinson.