Welcome to our April newsletter!

In this month’s newsletter we provide the key points to take away from the Charity Commission’s latest news bulletin, upcoming changes to the details required by Companies House, changes to prize and sales limits for society lotteries, and a reminder on the public benefit requirement for charities following a recent investigation by the Commission into a charity.

We also have an upcoming webinar where we will be discussing how organisations can start to make efforts in 'greening' their supply chains. 

Charity Commission news
The Commission has issued its latest newsletter which includes the following topics:

  • A reminder to people setting up charities relating to the crisis in Ukraine to first consider supporting an established charity, for example, the Disasters Emergency Committee. Whilst many people will want to help with the crisis by setting up charities, more established charities will have greater experience to safely and efficiently help those who need it. The guidance also reminds charities that are suddenly seeing an increase in their funds to be mindful of any new obligations, such as reporting requirements that will come about as a consequence.
  • A suite of five-minute guides to help trustees refresh their knowledge on key duties. The first in the series was released on 23 March and focuses on charity purposes and governing documents.
  • A reminder of the Charities Act 2022 which received royal assent in February. Charities should familiarise themselves with changes to obligations under the Act. For further information, please refer to our ebriefing series or contact us.
  • A warning to charities to be on the lookout for potential cyberattacks due to the ongoing situation in Ukraine and suggest that charities follow the guidance published by the National Cyber Security Centre which can be found here.
  • The annual return for 2022 will likely be launched at the end of April but charities can file theirs earlier if they wish to. The Commission has also stated that charities should state their area of operation as the place where the charity delivers its purpose. For example, if the charity is based in England but delivers its purposes in Spain, it should record its area of operation as Spain.
  • Charities need to be mindful of when a worker is entitled to the minimum wage. A volunteer that is paid anything over and above out of pocket expenses could be classed as a worker for national minimum wage purposes. The Commission has provided a link to a webinar on this subject. If you have further questions or require support, please contact our employment team or your usual ACS contact who can ensure your query goes through to the right person.
  • The Charity Commission’s personal information charter provides information on how the Commission processes personal information and can be found here.

Sustainability fund for refurbishment and maintenance works
The Wolfson Foundation has set up a sustainability fund enabling organisations to obtain between £10,000-£50,000 of funding with up to 100% of funding offered, including irrecoverable VAT for projects involving refurbishment, maintenance work and/or equipment purchase which has benefits for the environment and cover ongoing running costs for the organisation. The Wolfson Foundation says that the grant could be used for projects such as installing solar panels, green roofs, energy-efficient glazing, replacement of inefficient heating/hot water systems and LED lighting.

For full information on the criteria that must be satisfied and further information about how to apply, visit the Wolfson Foundation website.

The importance of having a public benefit
Gerson Support Group (Gerson) has been removed from the register of charities because the Charity Commission concluded that they failed to demonstrate a public benefit.   

Put simply, charities must always satisfy the following:

  • Have purposes that are beneficial to the community at large. The benefit must be identifiable and if necessary, be proven by evidence. Any determent or harm must be significantly outweighed by the benefit to the public.
  • Those persons who may benefit must be significant in number and identified in such a manner as so to constitute a section of the public.

Gerson’s purpose was to relieve sickness and preserve and promote good health using ‘Gerson nutritional therapy’ – a particular vegetarian diet, which is considered a type of complementary and alternative (CAM) therapy.

For a charity offering CAM therapy to satisfy the public benefit requirement and qualify for charitable status, the Commission has to be convinced that there is objective scientific evidence to support that such therapies can assist with or cure the condition they relate to. The Commission had examined Gerson and concluded that there is insufficient evidence to support any claim that ‘Gerson nutritional therapy can treat cancer or its symptoms, and therefore falls short of demonstrating that Gerson has a public benefit.

This example highlights the importance of the public benefit requirement for any charity to remain registered. 

For advice and support on the requirements of the Charity Commission, please get in touch with Safa Murad.

Changes to information required by Companies House
The Government has published a white paper stating that it will increase the level of information that will be required from companies. The changes include:

  • Anyone setting up, running, owning or controlling a company in the UK will need to verify their identity with Companies House.
  • The amount of information required to be filed on Companies House will be increased and improved so that businesses and individuals can carry out better due diligence on those that they are doing business with. 
  • Filing processes for small businesses will be digitalised.

Existing and future charitable companies will need to be aware of these new requirements.

These reforms will be introduced as part of an Economic Crime Bill which aims to improve corporate transparency.

If you have any queries on these changes or want to find out more information about the incorporation of your charity, please contact Safa Murad.

Changes to sales and prize limits for society lotteries
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has carried out a review of sales and prize limits for society lotteries.

In 2020, the Gambling Act 2005 (Variation of Monetary Limits) Order 2020 increased the annual sales limit to £50 million, the per-draw sales limit to £5 million, and the maximum prize per draw to £500,000.

The review says that there are early indicators suggesting that the new limits are allowing society lotteries to grow and raise more money for their causes, which was the intended impact. However, the review also cautions that it is too early to take a definitive view, given that the new limits were rolled out during the Covid-19 pandemic, during which time consumer behaviour could have been distorted.

New chair of the Commission
The Commission has confirmed that Orlando Fraser has been appointed as the new chair. Fraser has been practising as a barrister for almost thirty years and has served on various councils including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations’ Advisory Council. He is appointed for a term of three years commencing 25 April 2022.

What’s on the horizon for charity trustees?
The Charities Aid Foundation and The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) have joined forces to produce a report on the future of trusteeship and the challenges facing charities and their boards in 2022.

The report considers six key areas:

  1. Sourcing and securing funding and the challenges this presents.
  2. How the nature and involvement of charity trustees can have an impact on the culture of the charity.
  3. Creating diverse and inclusive boards.
  4. Creating better training within charities.
  5. The changes that digital advancements have brought about, and helping people to adjust to them.
  6. Climate change and what charities can do to help.

Fundraising by telephone
The Chartered Institute of Fundraising has issued a helpful guide on using the telephone for fundraising. The guide sets out the advantages of using the phone for connecting with donors (such as building engagement and opening up sensitive conversations around legacy giving), sourcing good quality data, some of the regulations that must be complied with when contacting people by phone and tips for planning a telephone campaign.

Change to eligibility for free lateral flows and PCR tests
From Friday 1 April, free lateral flow and PCR tests will no longer be available for most people in England. This is part of the Government's ‘living with Covid-19’ strategy.

Patients in hospitals who require a PCR test for their care, care home residents and people who work in high-risk settings such as care homes and prisons are among the minority of people that are still entitled to free tests.

Otherwise, the NHS website is advising people to simply avoid others if they show symptoms of Covid-19 (although self-isolation is no longer mandatory). If people really want to take a test, they can do so by purchasing a test online. For further information please see the NHS website here.

Webinar: Greening your supply chains
Natalie Barbosa and Gayle Monk will be hosting a webinar on how organisations can take action to address the climate and biodiversity crisis through the use of ‘green’ contractual terms and ‘greening’ their procurement process. The webinar is suitable for anyone within procurement, in-house legal teams and contracts managers.

The webinar will be hosted on Wednesday 27 April 2022 from 11:00am-12:30pm and you can register to attend here. If you have any questions, please get in touch by emailing event.booking@anthonycollins.com.

Webinar: All change in Charity Law: A practical guide to the Charities Act 2022
Catherine Gibbons and Esther Campsall will be hosting a webinar on the new Charities Act 2022. This interactive session will look at the key changes being brought about by the Act, their impact on how charities are governed and explore practical examples showing how the changes will apply.

The webinar will be hosted on Wednesday 11 May 2022 from 10:00am-12:30pm and you can register to attend here. If you have any questions, please get in touch by emailing event.booking@anthonycollins.com.

For more information

For more information or advice on the topics raised within this month's newsletter, please contact Safa Murad or your usual Anthony Collins Solicitors representative.