The five-minute policy manager – May 2016

Charity law

Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016

The Cabinet Office has published a provisional implementation plan for the new Charities Act. Key provisions of the Act, such as the discretionary disqualification power and reserve powers to regulate fundraising, are timetabled to come into force in July 2016. Others, such as the power to issue official warnings are due to be brought in in October 2016. Powers to automatically disqualify a trustee and prevent their participation in corporate decisions will come into force in April 2017.

Charity Commission consultation on new disqualification power

The Charity Commission has launched a three month consultation on how it will exercise its new power to disqualify individuals from being trustees.

This new power, which will come into effect in July, will allow the commission to disqualify individuals from being trustees in circumstances where they are judged not fit to act, for a period of up to 15 years.

In the consultation paper the commission proposes to only use its powers to disqualify a trustee if three tests are met:

  1. At least one of the following conditions are present: the trustee has been cautioned for an offense against a charity or administration of a charity; the trustee has been found by HMRC not to be a ‘fit and proper person’ to be a manager of a body or trust; the trustee has previously facilitated misconduct or mismanagement; there has been other misconduct unrelated to a charity, found to be damaging to public trust.
  2. The individual is unfit to be a trustee.
  3. The order is ‘desirable in the public interest or in order to protect public trust and confidence in charities’.

NCVO and other charity experts have previously expressed concern that the new power to disqualify had been drawn too broadly. We will therefore be responding to this consultation to ensure the criteria are clearly drawn and there are appropriate safeguards in place. If you have any questions about the consultation or would like to share your views, please get in touch.

Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIO)

The Cabinet Office is consulting on regulations that will allow charitable companies and community interest companies to convert to the CIO charitable form.

The consultation closes on 10 June 2016.


‘Opt in’

Michael Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross and chair of NCVO’s working group, has written a blog outlining the principles that will guide the group’s final recommendations.

The starting point is the concept of ‘freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous consent’, and the aim of the recommendations is to ensure donors (and potential donors) have meaningful control about whether and how they are contacted by charities for fundraising purposes.

New European data protection law

The EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 24 May 2016. However there is a two-year grace period before it will apply in the UK.

One of the key changes is that consent from individuals to the processing of their personal data must be unambiguous and given by means of clear affirmative action. This is in addition to the current requirement that consent must be freely given, specific and informed.

The information commissioner will be producing guidance on the new rules over the next six months, building on the document ‘Preparing for the GDPR – 12 steps to take now’.

Government responds to parliamentary fundraising report

The Government has published its response to last year’s report from the House of Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee into fundraising.

Of particular interest is the fact that, despite the committee’s reservations about a fundraising preference service (FPS), the government expresses its support for the FPS as a way to give people who feel inundated by fundraising requests a simple way to opt out of everything.

New fundraising regulator

The new fundraising regulator has launched its website.

What else?

Human Rights Universal Periodic Review – call for evidence

In 2017, the human rights situation in UK will be reviewed by the United Nations as part of its Universal Periodic Review process.

To help ensure the voice of civil society is heard during that review, the British Institute of Human Rights has launched a call for evidence, calling for information about the human rights situation across the UK to feed into a joint civil society report to be submitted to the United Nations ahead of its review.

More information about the call for evidence and how to make a submission can be found here. The deadline is 30 June 2016. If you have any questions, get in touch with BIHR at

Anti-lobbying clause on pause

The government has announced that it will be ‘pausing’ the rollout of its controversial anti-lobbying clause in grant agreements. NCVO, ACEVO, SE UK have welcomed this decision.

VCSE Health Review

After a year-long review, a new report calls for the voluntary sector to play a much greater role in the health and care system. The report was co-produced by voluntary organisations and the Department of Health, Public Health England and NHS England, who have committed to implementing its recommendations. Summarising the findings, the chair of the review, Alex Fox, says promoting wellbeing should be the defining purpose of the health and care system, and that the voluntary sector has a key role to play in helping people live well at home. Read his blog here.

Fraud in the charity sector

According to the Annual Fraud Indicator 2016, the voluntary sector is losing up to £1.9bn a year to fraud.

The report covers the year 2013/14 and estimates that the voluntary sector lost £886m to payroll fraud, £776m to procurement fraud and a further £196m to grant fraud.

These figures are significantly higher than other estimates of fraud affecting the voluntary sector made in recent years.



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

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