Public policy round-up: June–July 2018

Code of ethics

Following the Charity Commission Safeguarding Summit, one of the key tasks we undertook was to develop a ‘code of ethics’ for charities. The idea is to provide the charity sector with a set of ethical principles, that can act in a similar way to the ‘Nolan Principles’ for holders of public office.

Of course every charity is different, but we think that there are some values and principles that are relevant to every organisation, no matter what size or type of activity, whether they operate locally or internationally.

By looking at existing codes of conduct and talking to a range of charities, we have developed a draft code and have now launched a consultation, and we want to hear your views.

Here are the draft code and consultation, which runs until 26 September.

Please email responses or comments to You can also get in touch with us if you have any questions or would like to hear about events we’re running to engage with charities about the Code.

International Development Committee

The International Development Committee (IDC) is carrying out and inquiry into sexual exploitation and abuse in the aid sector.

The Committee’s key concern is allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of the intended recipients and beneficiaries of humanitarian and development aid by aid sector workers, peacekeepers, or others supported by UK aid in recipient countries; and proposals for new approaches to safeguarding within the aid sector to tackle these problems.

We made a submission to the Committee, highlighting the work that NCVO and the rest of the sector are doing to strengthen safeguarding and minimise the risk of abuse and other harmful behaviour. You can read our submission briefing to the IDC here.

Charity Commission safeguarding taskforce

The Commission has provided and update on the work of its interim safeguarding task-force which was established in February to manage the increased number of serious incident reports, and undertake a review of historic serious incident and whistleblowing reports on safeguarding issues.

Public trust and confidence

The Charity Commission has published its latest research into public trust and confidence in charities, finding that public trust in charities has plateaued since 2016, and remains low at 5.5 out of 10.










Nevertheless, the sector holds up well compared with others. It is still more trusted, for instance, than private companies, banks, and politicians.

The research, also identifies the key drivers of trust in charities, and shows that demonstrating high standards of conduct and behaviour (being ‘true to their values’) is as important to trustworthiness as making a positive difference to a charity’s cause.

Sleep-ins back payment

No doubt you will be aware of the long standing sleep-in back pay crisis that has been threatening the social care sector. We recently signed up to a letter by the #SolveSleepIns Alliance addressed to the chair of the Charity Commission Tina Stowell, asking her to ensure that the public interest in this issue is represented to government.

The Court of Appeal has now ruled that care workers who had to stay overnight as part of their job will not be entitled to back pay at the minimum wage.

Updated grant standards guidance

Cabinet Office has published updated best practice guidance to assist grant-funding Departments.

The revisions to the guidance have been focused on providing additional advice and support for grant makers in specific areas such as:

  • developing due diligence and fraud risk assessment models
  • gaining assurance against expenditure
  • developing performance monitoring regimes.

The ten previously titled minimum standards remain very much the same as when they were published in 2016. They have now been rebranded as the Government Functional Standard for General Grants, as part of a wider piece of work to ensure consistency across government functional standards. While there have been a handful of minor changes to certain words, the standards remain intact.

What is of particular interest to charities is that the update has not changed any of the guidance on developing grant agreements: in particular, the guidance for Standard 6 on covering eligible expenditure terms remains as previously agreed and published and the policy has not changed.

Inheritance Tax Review

Following the news that the chancellor and financial secretary to the Treasury have requested the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to review a wide range of aspects of Inheritance Tax (IHT), we have supported Remember A Charity and the Institute of Fundraising in highlighting the importance of legacy income and inheritance tax relief.

The consultation response focuses on ensuring that charities are carefully considered within the debate, and ultimately that the system is fit for purpose and provides for a smooth experience for people.

Data Protection and GDPR

The Data Protection Act 2018 received Royal Assent on 23 May. A useful explanation about what this means for charities, and what is its purpose when we already have the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is available in this article ‘The Data Protection Act 2018: what you need to know’.

The ICO have updated their Guide to the GDPR. They have published guidance on automated decision-making and profiling which considers what automated decision-making and profiling is, and when this type of processing is to be carried out.

Fundraising platforms

Following a consultation earlier this year, the Fundraising Regulator has published a new section of the Code of Fundraising Practice covering online fundraising platforms, with new rules and guidance outlining their responsibilities.

The Code changes will require online platforms to meet the same levels of transparency required of other organisations associated with charitable giving. Fundraising Platforms have an implementation period until the end of August 2018 to comply with these new requirements.

Alongside the updates to the Code of Fundraising Practice, the Fundraising Regulator has developed guidance for fundraising platforms to help them meet the expected standards of transparency.

Fundraising platforms have also been in the news following a number of proposed changes that are currently being debated in Parliament and attracting a lot of political attention:

  • Robert Jenrick, the Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, has said he is taking steps to prevent online fundraising platforms from claiming their fees from the Gift Aid on donations. He claims that he wants to see an end to the practice in which some online platforms take a slice of Gift Aid to cover their fees rather than taking money directly from donations.
  • Labour MP Neil Coyle has tabled an amendment to the Counter-Terrorism and Border Security Bill that would make it illegal for fundraising platforms to make a profit from fundraising campaigns set up in response to terrorism attacks. The proposed amendment says that, where the fundraising campaign is set up to support people affected by acts of terrorism, fundraising platforms should  not be able to charge more than the cost of providing their services, such as credit card transaction fees.

Society lotteries

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has begun the long awaited consultation on changes to the rules relating to society lotteries.

Currently, the amount a society can raise is subject to limits of £4m sales per draw, £10m sales per year and a maximum prize of £400,000.

The consultation proposes:

  • to allow a tenfold increase in the amount that a large society lottery can raise per year, bringing the annual limit to £100m
  • to raise the per draw sales limit to £5m and the maximum prize to £500,000.

The consultation closes on 7 September 2018. We will be responding so if you have views you would like to share with us, please get in touch with Douglas Dowell.

NCVO events not to miss

NCVO/BWB Trustee Conference 2018: Good governance, great organisations – 5 November 2018

Join us as we explore the key principles of good governance and how to embed them across your organisation.

NCVO/VSSN Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference 2018 – 6–7 September 2018

An opportunity for academics, policy makers and practitioners from the UK and further afield to come together to share and discuss research that addresses the conference theme of trust, transparency and accountability and the broader issues facing the voluntary sector and volunteering at this time.

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

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