The five-minute policy manager – September 2015

Fundraising Review

Last week, the Review chaired by our chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington published the final report ‘Regulating fundraising for the future:  Trust in charities, confidence in fundraising regulation’. 

As many of you know, the headline recommendations include:

  • Establishing a new Fundraising Regulator that would replace the current FRSB. All charities that spend over £100,000 a year on fundraising from the public would be expected to contribute to the costs of the regulator. The new Regulator would own the Code of Fundraising Practice and adjudicate against it. It would also be equipped with a range of stronger sanctions, from ‘naming and shaming’ to cease and desist orders. Read my blog about why the Review recommended to maintain self-regulation.
  • Merging the IoF and PFRA into a single professional body, which would focus on training and promoting good practice.
  • Setting up a new Fundraising Preference Service that would allow members of the public to opt out of receiving any fundraising communications at all. Read Karl’s blog about how the FPS would work.

For more detail see this presentation on the report and the recommendations.

In the meantime, SCVO has published its own report on fundraising ‘The effectiveness of the self regulation of fundraising in Scotland:  an informal review’.

Comprehensive Spending Review

The Comprehensive Spending Review will take place on 25 November. In preparation Government departments have been tasked to plan ways to cut up to 40% from their budgets by 2019-20 in a bid to find an additional £20bn savings in public spending.

We have recently hosted a round table of sector organisations to discuss the implications of further reductions and develop proposals to ensure that key goals such as putting services in the hands of local communities, and increasing the role of voluntary organisations in the delivery of public services, can still be achieved. See the joint sector letter on developing a smarter state that we sent to the Prime Minister.

The upcoming Spending Review will be particularly important for health and social care charities. Earlier this year, the Department for Health, Public Health England and NHS England  launched a review about their future funding of the VCSE sector and how to ensure effective partnership working across the sectors. The review is being co-produced with voluntary sector representatives including NCVO and it is an important opportunity to make your views known. To take part in the consultation go here.

Charity Commission Annual Return

The Charity Commission has outlined its plans for the 2016 Annual Return, and has clarified that it will not ask charities to include in their annual returns the amount they have spent on campaigning. This is because of concerns about the administrative burden this would cause.

Lord Hodgson Review of the Lobbying Act

We have submitted to Lord Hodgson’s call for evidence as part of the review of non-party campaigning rules.

Our submission was based on a survey of NCVO members carried out over the Summer, as well as on our analysis of the rules which was based on legal advice.

The key issues we have highlighted as causing challenges to charities are:

  • the inadequacy of existing Electoral Commission guidance around Part Two of the Lobbying Act;
  • the regulatory burden of monitoring regulated activities for the purposes of registration;
  • the length of the regulated period;
  • the rules on coalition campaigning;
  • the definition of ‘active supporters’; and
  • the definition of ‘controlled expenditure’;
  • the cumulative ‘chilling effect’ of these issues on campaigning by charities.

See our full response here.

Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill

The first reading in the House of Commons of the Charities Bill on 15 September 2015. Considering the Parliament is now in recess for party conferences, the next debate isn’t likely to be until the end of October or beginning of November.

Gift Aid consultation on Donor Benefits

The Treasury’s consultation on Gift Aid Donor Benefit rules closes on 9 October. The consultation is an opportunity for charities to influence the simplification of these rules by providing data on how they interact with the existing regime, and in what circumstances it may restrict the provision of benefits to donors.

Email our policy officer Michael Birtwistle if you are interested in responding and would prefer to do so anonymously.

Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting

The focus of the APM was very much on how the Commission has been operating with reduced resources and that plans are being taken forward to introduce a charging system for charities. The chair of the Commission William Shawcross said that ‘It is inevitable that the charity sector will be required to make a financial contribution to the Commission’s future’.

All presentations of the Charity Commission’s Annual Public Meeting are available on the Commission’s website.

Public Trust in Charities

Public trust in charities has fallen to its lowest level for eight years, according to a poll by nfpSynergy. It found that just 53% of people now trust charities ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’, down 3% on last year and down 13% since 2013. Nearly a third of people (29%) say they have “not much” trust in charities, while one in ten trust them “very little”, the sector’s worst figures since 2007.

CAF has also published a research report comparing the views of MPs and the UK public on charities, ‘Under the Microscope:  Examining the future of charities in Britain’. It reveals that most people across the UK (57%) agree charities are trustworthy and act in the public interest. While levels of public trust remain high, the result suggests trust has fallen since last year when a similar poll by the Charity Commission found 71% trusted charities.

Kids Company

Both the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (PACAC) and the National Audit Office (NAO) are carrying out separate inquiries into the closure of Kids Company.

  • The PACAC inquiry will look at the charity’s relationship with successive UK governments.
  • The NAO investigation will examine the government’s grounds for providing funding to the charity and how the grants were monitored.


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Elizabeth was head of policy and public services at NCVO until 2020.

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