The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Whilst life before lockdown may seem a distant memory, as we head through the peak of coronavirus, many of us are probably beginning to think about what the post-Covid-19 world will look like.
The last few weeks have seen vast amounts of donations to the NHS Charities Together Campaign, currently totalling over £80 million. On Friday 24 April, the Charity Commission registered the Daily Mail’s new charity, ‘Mail Force’, which has an initial fund of £4 million. It has already bought £1 million worth of PPE, which will be delivered to the NHS “in a convoy of trucks – including Daily Mail delivery vans”. Many other charities have also been making huge contributions to the coronavirus effort.
This goes to show just how much charities can achieve when put to the test – and how much we rely on them. Once the pandemic is over, it may be time to think about how we can reduce pressure on charities and allow them to flourish.
Catch up with the latest charity news in this week’s roundup.
Debate on charities in the House of Lords
Last Thursday (30 April) saw a virtual debate in the House of Lords about the challenges facing the charitable and voluntary sector during the coronavirus pandemic. Speakers included Lord Addington (director of the Atlas Foundation charity), Baroness Barker (development adviser to Charity Checkout), Lord Harris of Haringey (chair of the Fundraising Regulator) and Lord Wei (advisor to the Community Network Foundation). The debate went ahead despite concerns that limits on the number of speakers and the length of their speaking slots (just two minutes) would make it harder to hold the Government to account.
Baroness Barran (Parliamentary Under-Secretary in the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport), who responded on behalf of the Government, made it clear that furloughed charity workers will not be able to volunteer for their own organisations. This approach, she said, would help to prevent fraudulent claims and protect workers. Baroness Barran also called for time to be set aside for a “proper debate” and promised that the Government would “engage proactively with organisations across the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors.”
Coronavirus-related funding for charities
The Government has so far declined to promise any further funding beyond its £750 million pledge to charities last month, as Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee that the Government would not be able to save every business – nor every charity. The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) paused applications to its emergency funding scheme in April after over 5,000 applications were made for more than £40 million, eight times the total value of the £5 million fund.
Many charities are launching urgent fundraising appeals after experiencing declines in their incomes. Legacy income is expected to fall by around a quarter, partly due to lower gift values. There is some good news further into the future though – Legacy Foresight is expecting legacy income to recover in 2021 and beyond.
The Government has launched an online tool to help organisations find the financial support for which they are eligible during the coronavirus crisis, which may include loans, tax relief and cash grants. Civil Society also has a helpful list of available funding for charities.
Electronic signatures – the debate continues
The Government has issued its response to the Law Commission’s report on the electronic execution of documents. It supports the view that electronic signatures can be used to validly execute documents – which could prove highly useful in the context of social distancing. Get in touch with our Charities team for more information and advice about document execution.
…helpful webpage for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Office for the Civil Society has published a webpage that puts lots of helpful links to guidance for voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in one place.
Wages for furloughed employees are now being paid to employers through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. We are seeing charities continue to furlough staff: Macmillan Cancer Support furloughed 600 staff, around 30% of its workforce.
The Government has also announced that furloughed workers will receive their full parental leave entitlement, based on their usual earnings rather than their furloughed pay rate. The announcement will apply to maternity and paternity pay, shared parental pay, parental bereavement pay and adoption pay.
See our Employment e-briefing for more information about furloughing and who is eligible.
What an inspiration
We reported previously Captain Tom Moore had completed his target of walking 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday. He’s now turned 100 and raised over £31 million for NHS Charities Together. He has definitely captured our hearts and no doubt his efforts give us a prod to do all we can to help.
If you would like more details about anything in this newsletter please speak to Esther Campsall, email your usual ACS contact or contact us via the ACS website.
Esther is an Associate in the Charities and Social business team and specialises in charity and education law. Out of the office (and whether in or out of lockdown!), Esther enjoys spending time with her husband and children, baking and crocheting. As trustee of a couple of charities, she has plenty to keep her busy!
Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building safety continues to be a key concern for social housing providers and their residents.
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