Policy Round Up: April 2017

I realise that by now we are well into the month of May, and that three days in policy can seem like a life time, but as you can imagine since the call of a snap General Election our priority has been to ensure our members understand the rules about campaigning in the run up to polling day, and are confident about what they can and can’t do.

So over the past week we have published a blog on how charities should be preparing for the snap general election and a blog on what charities need to know about campaigning in the run up to the General Election.

Earlier this week we also held a webinar to discuss the rules on campaigning during the election period.

Nevertheless, April was a very busy month on the policy and regulatory front – so if it’s not too late here are some of the key developments charities will want to know about.

 

Response to Industrial Strategy Green Paper

Earlier this year, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy published its Green Paper on how to build an industrial strategy and address the long-term challenges of the UK economy.

We submitted a response to the consultation, highlighting the important contribution that charities and volunteers already make to the economy and society, but also how there is potential for their role to be ever greater in a modern industrial strategy.

Read NCVO’s response to the Industrial Strategy green paper.

 

Response to ICO draft GDPR guidance

The Information Commissioner’s Office published its first piece of guidance on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), due to come into force in May 2018. Tighter requirements around consent are one of the most important changes made by the regulation, so it’s understandable that the ICO has prioritised this issue.

Read NCVO’s response to the draft GDPR guidance.

Since the end of the consultation, the ICO has published this blog outlining its plans going forward.

The ICO has also published a discussion paper on profiling under the GDPR which is another area where new obligations will be introduced.

 

Further ICO penalty notices

The ICO has issued eleven charities with monetary penalty notices for breaches of data protection legislation in relation to the use of donors’ personal data.

The Charity Commission and the Fundraising Regulator are also involved:

  • the Charity Commission has announced that it has opened compliance cases to assess whether the trustees of the charities acted in accordance with their duties under charity law.
  • the Fundraising Regulator has announced that it will be writing to each of the 11 charities to request “they provide an account for the Fundraising Regulator of the remedial steps they have taken” to prevent future data protection breaches.

This shows how it’s more important than ever that charities are doing everything they can to ensure their practices are meeting both legal requirements, and the public’s expectations. We have published a set of principles and recommendations that help charities develop their approach so they are building strong relationship with their donors.

 

Changes to probate fees paused

The government has put a stop to its plans to increase probate fees. This is because the relevant statutory instrument would not be completed before the election. This does however raise the possibility that the proposals could be dropped altogether, especially in light of the criticism made by a cross-party committee of MPs and peers.

A report by the joint committee on statutory instruments has suggested that the Ministry of Justice may not have the authority to introduce the charges of up to £20,000 per estate, and that therefore the plans may not be legally enforceable.

Charities had previously expressed concerns about the changes to the fee structure, claiming that it could cost up to an additional an additional £18m a year. This is because under the new structure charities would have to pay £1,000 on estates worth more than £300,000, and £4,000 on those worth more than £500,000. Larger estates pay up to £20,000.

Charity Commission accounts monitoring and public benefit reporting

The Charity Commission has today (21 April 2017) published the findings of its work scrutinising charity accounts, finding that 54% of those reviewed did not meet the public benefit reporting requirement.

The Commission is right in highlighting that, by not reporting on their public benefit, charities are missing out on an important opportunity to tell the public why their work matters, and what difference they are making.

 

Independence Panel Report

Civil Exchange has published ‘A Shared Society? The independence of the voluntary sector in 2017’.

This report is the sixth in a series of annual health checks of the relationship of the state and the voluntary sector.

The report’s findings are quite negative, and it concludes that threats to the independence of the sector have continued over the last 12 months and are – in some cases – growing.

However, here at NCVO we have a different view, one that could be described a bit more optimistic. Read Karl’s blog on why we think the sector is not losing its independence.

 

NCVO Annual Conference

On 20 April we held our Annual Conference, which this year focused on leadership and how charity leaders can face the challenges and opportunities ahead.

The day kicked off with NCVO chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington’s ‘State of the Sector’ speech, in which he encouraged charities to be bold.

We also held workshops on a wide range of topics, including the latest regulatory changes, influencing policies in a snap election, and how to make your organisation’s story resonate with a sceptical public, the slides of which you can access here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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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