Public Policy round-up: October 2016

Here is a summary of some of the key policy developments relevant to charities that happened this month.

Proposed changes to the composition of tribunals

The Ministry of Justice has launched a consultation on ‘Transforming our justice system’. The set of proposed changes is aimed at reforming the justice system so it meets changing needs, but it is also driven by cost-saving.

We are particularly concerned about the proposal to revise the current arrangements for setting the composition of panels that make decisions in tribunals, so that non-legal members are only included on a discretionary basis. We believe this could have a particularly negative impact on cases relating to charities and charity law, where the experience of non-legal members makes an important contribution to the decision making.

We have written a letter to the Minister of State Sir Oliver Heald QC MP to highlight our concerns. The consultation has been extended until 24 November so if you share our views there is still time to make a submission.

House of Lords Select Committee on Charities

The House of Lords has published all the written submissions it received following its call for evidence. You can read NCVO’s submission here.

You can also find a transcript of NCVO’s oral evidence session here.

Fundraising

In partnership with the Institute of Fundraising, Charity Finance Group and ACEVO we have launched ‘Trustees and Fundraising: A practical handbook’. This is a new free handbook to support charity trustees as they navigate their way through their responsibilities in relation to fundraising.  It has been written to complement the official Charity Commission CC20 guidance on fundraising for trustees. It includes:

  • case studies, checklists and tips for trustees, charity leaders and fundraisers
  • content covering the rules and regulations governing fundraising
  • how to plan for a sustainable future

Data protection

Last week the Information Commissioner’s Office launched a new code of practice which sets out how organisations should explain to people how they’re using their personal information.

The government has announced plans to make company directors personally liable for fines under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Charity Commission

Consultation on serious incident reporting

The Charity Commission has launched a consultation on draft revised guidance for serious incident reporting. The consultation closes on 12 January 2017.

One of the key changes is the addition of new types of incidents that need to be reported, and the removal of others (either because the risks are not classified as ‘serious’ or because now relevant information is provide din the charity’s annual report).

Some of the new incidents that need to be reported include:

  • media reports alleging that a charity has been misused for extremist purposes;
  • disqualification of a trustee under the new conditions set out in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act;
  • the loss of institutional donors, public funding or key delivery contracts that the charity is unable to replace if this means its financial sustainability is at risk.

New digital tool for trustees

The Commission has published a new piece of guidance called “Making digital work: 12 questions for trustees to consider”.  The guidance consists of sets of example questions that trustees should be considering when approaching issues around digitisation, including in relation to fundraising, governance, brand and service delivery.

Brexit

report by the House of Lords EU Committee recommends that Parliament should be actively involved in scrutinising the forthcoming negotiations on Brexit as they happen – rather than after decisions have been taken, as proposed by the Government.

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee has launched a short inquiry on Brexit: environment and climate change.

EU funding

The Chancellor has confirmed that the government will guarantee EU funding for structural and investment fund projects signed after the Autumn Statement and which continue after we have left the EU, provided the funding meets the following conditions:

  • The projects are good value for money.
  • The projects are in line with domestic strategic priorities.

This builds on the earlier announcement aimed at providing reassurance about the continuity of EU funding. NCVO wrote a letter to the Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke MP, asking for clarity about the criteria that Treasury would put in place for assessing claims for funding signed after this year’s Autumn Statement.

In other news…

The Minister for Civil Society, Rob Wilson, has announced that the first Local Charities Day will take place on 16 December.

The Charity Commission, in collaboration with members of the Charity Sector Counter Fraud Group, has launched www.charitiesagainstfraud.org.uk, a new website dedicated to helping charities in the fight against fraud. It provides an initial point of reference for trustees, staff and volunteers who want to find out more about tackling fraud in their charity, and includes guidance, top tips, case studies, as well as signposting users to other organisations tackling charity fraud.

The Prime Minister and Communities Secretary Sajid Javid have announced a £40 million homelessness prevention programme.

 

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Elizabeth Chamberlain Elizabeth is head of policy and public services at NCVO. She has been part of the policy team since 2008, as the expert on charity law and regulation. Her policy interests also include charity campaigning, the sector’s independence, transparency, and accountability.

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