Policy Round-Up: January 2017

Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting

Much of the focus of this year’s Annual Public Meeting was understandably around the PM’s speech about the ‘shared society’. We have welcomed the speech, as an important recognition of the role of charities and volunteers in society.

Volunteering and public services

Our chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington has called for a national debate about the future of volunteering and public services in his new year letter to the sector.

The future of volunteering and public services was also the topic of NCVO’s National Volunteering Forum, where our director of public policy and volunteering, Karl Wilding, set out NCVO’s views on such an important issue.

Charity Commission revised regulatory statement

During its Annual Public Meeting on 9 January, the commission also published a revised ‘regulatory statement’, in which it sets out its approach and priorities.

Charity Commission consultation on annual return

The commission has announced a consultation on content for the 2017 annual return. In particular, questions are asked about whether:

  • charities should keep the fundamental information up to date more regularly that annually
  • questions should be focused to match the commission’s strategic priorities and targeted at the relevant charities
  • the regulatory burden can be lifted by making sure the annual return is more targeted and proportionate.

This consultation closes on 9 March but is part of a two-year project to fundamentally review the key information that it collects and displays from charities.

NCVO will be responding so please share your comments below if you have particular issues you would like us to include.

Data protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has informed 11 charities that it intends to fine them for breaching the Data Protection Act. This follows the fines issued in December to the British Heart Foundation and the RSPCA.

According to the ICO’s press statement, the charities will be given 28 days to respond to the ICO’s findings. The ICO will consider representations made by each charity before making a final decision about enforcement action.

The statement also helpfully provides reassurance to all other charities that haven’t received a notice of intent, by stating that there are no other outstanding investigations into charities as part of the operation.

Charity governance

The commission has published its annual report on compliance and investigatory work, ‘tackling abuse and mismanagement’. The report identifies poor governance as being the reason of much of the commission’s case work this past year, including in relation to high profile cases regarding fundraising and financial abuse.

Small Charitable Donations

The Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Act has received Royal Assent. Its provisions will be effective from 6 April 2017. The act makes a number of amendments to the legislation which underpins the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS), and will simplify the scheme and extend access to smaller and newer charities. For details about the act, it’s worth reading this House of Commons Library briefing.

 

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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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