Public Policy Round-Up: March 2018

Much of the focus both within the sector and from outside (the media, government and the public) continues to be on the issues that have emerged following last month’s revelations about the conduct of some individuals in charities towards their beneficiaries, in particular in the context of international aid.

What do we mean by safeguarding?

We need to be clear about the scope of “safeguarding” within the sector. Generally speaking, legislation refers to safeguarding specifically in the context of working with children and vulnerable adults.

But the recent messages from Government have in effect broadened the scope of what it considers to comprise “safeguarding” in the charity and humanitarian sector to include not only children and vulnerable adults, but so as to also encompass the duty of care that charities may owe to other groups in the context of their operations: for example to their staff and volunteers, beneficiaries generally, and those who live and work in the areas in which they operate.

This has in turn meant that the employment practices and wider conduct of charities have come under the spotlight, and questions are being raised on issues that go well beyond safeguarding.

Whilst it is important to address all these issues, it is also important that we are clear about what safeguarding is and that we don’t create confusion.

What NCVO is doing

Following the summit held by the Charity Commission with domestic charities, there are a number of workstreams being delivered in parallel to those set up by the Department for International Development.

You can find out more about the summit and its outcomes in my blog about what you need to know where I also mention two important projects that NCVO is going to be leading on:

  • The development of a code of conduct for charities, which could act in part as an equivalent of the ‘Nolan Principles’ that apply to holders of public office.
  • Exploring the issue of references and identifying the key legal challenges that employers may face when an individual’s past misconduct isn’t known.

We also used the last meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering to discuss our learning from the safeguarding scandal.

If you weren’t able to attend, you can catch up on the discussion by following the Twitter hashtag #appgav

The Charity Business

The RSA’s chief executive Matthew Taylor has led a three-part programme examining how charities work, and asking what they are for.

The series looked at

  • Fundraising
  • Impact
  • Service delivery

And ended with a panel discussion asking whether people trust charities less following the recent controversies, and where charities go next.

Charity Tax Commission

The Charity Tax Commission has launched a consultation seeking views on whether and how the tax treatment of charities needs to be reformed.

The commissioners want to hear from anyone with knowledge, expertise or experience of the system of charitable tax reliefs.

The 16-week call for evidence is open until Friday 6 July. To find our more, visit the call for evidence page.

LSE-Lancet Commission on the Future of the NHS

The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) and The Lancet have announced a joint Commission to examine the Future of the NHS. Led by the LSE Department of Health Policy, the Commission will run throughout 2018 and will publish its findings, including key policy recommendations, in 2019.

The Commission will focus on the major challenges facing the NHS across the UK, with an emphasis on eight key areas:

  • the NHS and the Wider Economy
  • the Changing Healthcare Needs of the Population
  • Organisational/Structural Challenges
  • Delivering High Quality Services for all
  • Pharmaceuticals and Medical Devices
  • Public/Patient Involvement and Expectations
  • Securing a Sustainable and Skilled Workforce
  • the Role of Technology and Innovation

As part of its work the Commission has launched a call for evidence, so organisations and individuals have an opportunity to submit evidence on any of these eight areas or any other areas around the challenges facing the NHS and innovative solutions to these challenges.

The deadline for submissions is 30th July 2018.

Guidance on cyber attacks

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC, part of GCHQ) has published its first cyber security guidance for the charity sector, focussed on small charities.

The guidance helps charities identify weaknesses and defend themselves from the most common cyber attacks.


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

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