Public policy round-up: October 2017

Lobbying Act reform

In September, our chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington and a number of other charity chief executives met with Chris Skidmore (Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office with responsibility for constitution policy and democracy) and Tracey Crouch (Parliamentary Under Secretary for Sport and Civil Society) to discuss the government’s plans to implement the recommendations made by Lord Hodgson in his Third Party Election Campaigning Review.

Unfortunately, the lack of parliamentary time means that government is not intending to make any of the proposed changes to the law.

Another reason why the reforms are unable to go forward is the Electoral Commission’s response to Lord Hodgson’s report, which raises a number of concerns about the proposals, in particular the change to definition of controlled expenditure to one based on actual intent.

NCVO, BOND and ACEVO have written to the chief executive of the Electoral Commission to explore whether there are other solutions and ways in which the rules can be improved.

Have your say on the 2018 Annual Return

The Charity Commission has opened a consultation for next year’s Annual Return. The consultation is the second part of a two-year project to review the key information that the commission collects and displays from charities.

The aim is to develop a more dynamic annual return that is better targeted: charities that are smaller and have simpler operating structures will answer fewer questions, but those that are larger and more complex will be required to answer more.

Read my blog post explaining the key changes that are being proposed.

New consultation on the Code of Fundraising Practice

The Fundraising Regulator has launched a new consultation on proposed changes to the Code regarding data protection.

The consultation aims to update the code:

  • to mirror the upcoming GDPR legislation
  • address the issues identified in the penalty notices levied by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the last two years
  • ensure that rules on data protection are more accessible by improving signposting to existing ICO and Fundraising Regulator guidance.

The consultation will run until Friday 8 December. More information on the proposed changes and how to respond are on the Fundraising Regulator’s website.

European Union (withdrawal) bill

The House of Lords Delegated Powers and Regulatory Reform Committee has published its first report on the European Union (withdrawal) bill. Key conclusions made by the committee are that:

  • the bill gives ministers ‘excessively wide law-making powers’
  • ministers should not have an ‘unfettered discretion’ to decide whether the wide-ranging secondary legislation likely to stem from the bill should be subject to the full scrutiny of the affirmative procedure or the less robust negative procedure
  • there should instead be a new procedure that, where the minister proposes the negative procedure, a committee of each house, or a joint committee of both houses, should be given 10 days to overturn the minister’s proposal and upgrade scrutiny to the affirmative procedure.

New grant rules from DfID

A statement from the International Development Secretary Priti Patel has announced new rules for DFID suppliers. These include:

  • a new code of conduct to ensure ‘the highest standards of ethical and professional behaviour by DFID suppliers, with legally enforceable sanctions, such as ending contracts early – for those caught breaking the rules’
  • tougher scrutiny of costs and greater transparency by including new clauses in contracts to allow DFID to inspect costs, overheads, fees and profits of suppliers
  • publishing annual league tables of supplier performance to ‘name and shame those who are not delivering value for money’
  • stopping so-called ‘bid candy’ practices, by which large suppliers include smaller businesses (such as charities) to win bids, but then drop them from the contract.

The 50 trends that will shape the future

The Civil Society Futures initiative led by Julia Unwin has published a draft map of 50 trends which will shape the next decade for civil society in England.

Data protection

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published a list of 12 steps to prepare for the Data Protection bill.

NCVO Trustee Conference

Just a few more weeks until our Trustee Conference on 14 November.

As well as an agenda full of high level speakers, there are a number of breakout sessions that will focus on specific topics, including my session on ‘Data protection: Your charity’s biggest risk?’.

There is still time to sign up and join me, and speakers from the ICO and BWB, to find out more about GDPR and what it means for your organisation.

 

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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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