In this ebriefing, we identify what we see as the key messages arising from recent prosecutions in the care and housing sectors.
Welcome to our May newsletter.
What is responsible investment?
The Charity Commission has launched a consultation on the clarity of draft revised guidance for trustees regarding a responsible approach to investing charity funds. Two cases relating to charitable investments have already been granted permission to be heard in the High Court. The full guidance can be read here.
All charities have the ability to invest however, there are various laws depending on the legal form of the charity, its governing document and the scope of investments chosen. Many charities also wish to have an investment policy in place which sets out:
- the charity’s investment powers;
- its investment objectives;
- attitude to risk;
- the amount of funds available to be invested; and
- specific investment targets and how this will be managed.
My colleague, Edwina Turner, will be providing further details on what your obligations are when making investments in her upcoming ebriefing.
New advice around AGMs and other meetings
The Charity Commission has updated their coronavirus advice for trustees in relation to postponing or cancelling meetings. Again, it is key for trustees to check whether a charity’s governing document allows for trustee and member’s meetings to take place virtually. In some instances, trustees may need to cancel or postpone their AGMs or other important meetings by following the charity’s governing document. Further, it is advisable that trustees record the reasons for postponing or cancelling meetings especially if this impacts on preparing the charity’s annual reports and accounts.
A return to public fundraising
The Government’s rule change on 12 April means that door-to-door and private site fundraising is now allowed. These fundraising activities should take place following a thorough risk assessment of the safety and wellbeing of staff, volunteers and members of the public.
Lessons from the LGB Alliance
LGB Alliance, a company limited by guarantee, applied to enter onto the Register of Charities last year and attracted various objections. The Charity Commission assessed whether LGB Alliance met the test under section 3 of the Charities Act 2011 (the Act), having a 'charitable purpose' which acts as a helpful reminder of the test an organisation must meet to become a charity. Read more here.
There are a number of descriptions that are listed in section 3 which an organisation’s purpose must fall within, as well as a requirement that the purpose met in section 3 of the Act must also be for the public benefit under section 4(2).
If you require any support or advice in registering a charity, please get in touch with Katie Crosbie.
FCA coronavirus update
The FCA has advised mutual societies to submit their annual returns and accounts as soon as reasonably practicable. Where societies are experiencing delays, action will not be taken against delayed submissions where that delay is three months or less. This applies to returns due by 31 October 2021.
Duty to make serious incident reports
The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has submitted a serious incident report to the Charity Commission following several sexual misconduct allegations against actor Noel Clarke following his recent BAFTA award win. There are concerns that BAFTA was made aware of the allegations 13 days before he was presented with the award.
The Commission requires all charities to report serious incidents, whether actual or alleged, which results in or risks significant:
- harm to your charity’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with your charity through its work (who are collectively referred to throughout this guidance as people who come into contact with your charity through its work);
- loss of your charity’s money or assets;
- damage to your charity’s property; or
- harm to your charity’s work or reputation.
There is also guidance for trustees on what needs to be reported as a serious incident during the coronavirus pandemic such as an outbreak of coronavirus or associated acts of fraud.
For further information, please see the full Charity Commission guidance on serious incidents or speak to your ACS contact.
Queen’s Speech 2021
The Queen’s speech last week outlined a number of the Government’s legislative agendas, some of which will be of benefit to charities:
- Charities Bill – set to reduce the unnecessary bureaucracy around disposals of land, trustee ex gratia payments and changing governing documents and will implement the Law Commission report on technical issues in charity law.
- Subsidy Control Bill – this will implement the outcome of the recent consultation which is designed to create a new UK subsidy control regime to replace state aid.
- Dormant Assets Bill – this should release dormant assets and allow for additional funds, making it easier to distribute the funding to environmental and social causes.
New Gift Aid concessions
Under amended rules announced recently, charities will be able to claim Gift Aid on waived loan payments or refunds. Where an individual chooses not to claim a refund after paying to attend a charity event which is later cancelled, the refund will be treated as a donation and therefore eligible for Gift Aid.
For larger funds, a charity will be required to show a 'legally enforceable document' evidencing what is being waived and stating that this should now be dealt with as a donation for Gift Aid.
Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales has launched a Racial Equity Fund, providing a two-year unrestricted grant programme of £50,000 for charities where more than half of the trustee board self-identify as belonging to a Black, Asian or minority ethnic (BAME) community.
The Empowering Women Fund is offering grants of between £500 and £25,000 to women’s groups and organisations in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The first round deadline is Friday 28 May.
The Windrush Community Fund is now welcoming applications, with support available to organisations that work to raise the awareness of the Windrush Scheme of between £2,500 and £25,000.
For more information
If you would like more details about anything in this newsletter please speak to your usual ACS contact or contact Natalie Barbosa.
A recent High Court case on costs could prove essential reading for clients who have cases in the magistrates' courts.
The employment and pensions team offer practical advice on whistleblowing.
Partners, David Alcock and Sarah Patrice, have been involved in reviewing the new Code of Governance for community-led housing, published on 21 May 2021 by the Confederation for Coop Housing.
Following the eviction ban being lifted on 31 May 2021 and further to our previous ebriefing, the new notice of seeking possession forms are now available on the Government website as Word versions.
The European Court of Justice's standpoint on the Wiener Wohnen landowning developer case, and how the level of influence over the work did not amount to a decisive influence.
The Law Commission's Technical Issues in Charity Law report revealed that many charities struggle with a range of technical issue in the law.
The Law Commission recommended four key changes to the law in respect of mergers and the incorporation of charities which we have detailed in this ebriefing.
Over the last few weeks, we have published individual ebriefings on some of the key changes to be implemented following the Government’s response to the Law Commission’s report.
In April 2021, the Foreign Office halted funding for Oxfam following new allegations of sexual misconduct made against staff in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
To receive invitations to our events, as well as information and articles on legal issues and sector developments that are of interest to you, please sign up to Newsroom.