Public Policy Round-Up: January 2019

The new year has started with a flurry of activity here at NCVO – within less than four weeks we have published:

  • Stuart’s ‘new year’s message to the sector’ setting out the challenges and opportunities ahead, particularly post-Brexit.
  • Our 2019 Road Ahead looking at the political, economic, social and technological drivers that will impact charities and their work in the year ahead and beyond.
  • the ‘Charity Ethical Principles’ that set out the current consensus over the shared values and ethics that should guide practice and decision making in all organisations.
  • ‘Time Well Spent’, our report detailing the findings from our national survey on the volunteer experience.

Civil society’s role post-Brexit

Following the prime minister’s offer to engage civil society on Brexit, we have written saying how much we have to offer in shaping the kind of country Britain will become after leaving the European Union

You can read the full letter here.

No deal Brexit and data protection

The use of data and in particular the flow of data between the UK and the EU is a key issue that will be affected if there is no deal in place in time for Brexit. It’s therefore important for organisations to review whether they would be affected.

In other data protection news…

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published detailed guidance to help organisations decide if they are acting as a controller, processor or joint controller when processing personal data.

Extension of Freedom of Information

On 28 January the ICO laid before parliament the report ‘Outsourcing Oversight? The case for reforming access to information law’ which calls for an update to the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) to include organisations providing a public function.

The main aim of the report is to make an evidence-based case to extend the reach of FOIA and the EIR to enable greater transparency and accountability in modern public services, which in turn improves services.

A key recommendation is for organisations delivering public services, including charities and social enterprises, to be subject to the act.

The principle of transparency in contracting is one NCVO has always supported, and expanding the Act could be an important way in which this can be achieved. However it will be important to ensure that in practice any change to the legislation doesn’t create disproportionate problems – we don’t want to see the creation of additional barriers to charities delivering public service contracts.

The report is linked to the ICO’s draft access to information strategy ‘Openness by Design’.

Changes to legacy rules

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has announced that it will start work to design and establish a new service to notify charities when they have been left money in wills.

The move follows a decision to end HMCTS’ current arrangement, whereby a private company provided a paid-for notification service to participating charities. The reason given by HMCTS is that such practice, while established in good faith, is not consistent with the department’s legal duties.

NHS long term plan

The government finally launched the NHS Long Term Plan, which sets out how the £20.5bn budget settlement for the NHS, announced by the prime minister in summer 2018, will be spent over the next five years.

See Rosie’s blog for a summary of the key commitments and what they might mean for charities.

Sustainable development goals

Between now and July 2019, the UK government is carrying out a review of the UK’s progress towards the United Nation Sustainable Development Goals.

In July, the UK will present its Voluntary National Review at the UN’s High-level Political Forum. To inform the review, the government is encouraging any group, organisation, or individual contributing to the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals in the UK to share what they are doing.

NCVO Annual Conference 2019: Looking to the future

It’s come around again so quickly – NCVO’s annual conference this year will take place on 1 April.

Join colleagues from across the sector to explore how future trends and tools can strengthen your charity and support you to develop as a leader.

View the full programme and book your place here.

Future of Good Governance debate

On 15 February I will be taking part in a debate on the Future of Good Governance, looking at the key emerging governance priorities for charities and sharing views of what good governance looks like.

The event has been organised by Which? as part of their own governance review.

Please follow this link to sign up for the event.

If you would like any further information, please contact events@which.co.uk.

Charity Commission Annual Public meeting

The commission has announced that its Annual Public Meeting will be held in Manchester on Tuesday 5 March.

To register your interest in attending please email events@charitycommission.gsi.gov.uk

The Commission has also published its latest news issue.

It’s worth noting a practical – but very important – point: all of the Commission’s email addresses will be changing on 31 March – from that date, they will no longer have ‘.gsi’ in the address.

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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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