Public policy round-up: February 2019

February may be a short month but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been a busy one. Here are some of the key regulatory and policy developments that have happened and that may be of interest to charities.

Concerns about no-deal Brexit

At an important time during the Brexit process, we have raised concerns about the risks of leaving without a deal in place. In this blog from our chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington, we highlight the damaging implications that a no-deal Brexit would have not only on the economy, but also on communities across the country, and the charities that are there to support them.

We are not the only ones who have decided to speak out: a number of charity leaders have also emphasised their concerns about a no-deal Brexit.

Charity Commission compliance work

The Charity Commission has published Dealing with wrongdoing and harm, its report on its compliance work dealing with wrongdoing and harm in charities. The report also sets out lessons for trustees in the following areas: insider fraud, safeguarding, reporting serious incidents, counter-terrorism, data protection and military charities.

New service for charitable bequests

A new system alerting charities to when they have been left money in wills is to be established by HM Courts and Tribunals Service.

The move follows a decision to end Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service’s (HMCTS) current arrangement with Smee & Ford, a private company, which has provided a paid-for notification service to participating charities for several years.

NCVO has been invited to join a working group with representatives from Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (ACEVO), the Institute of Fundraising and the Institute of Legacy Management with the aim of creating a replacement arrangement.

An open letter to all affected charities can be found here.

Freedom of information

The Information Commissioner has published a report about reforming access to information law.

The Outsourcing Oversight? report recommends extending the access to information regimes under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) to a range of entities to whom these currently do not apply. This could include charities if they are performing public functions or providing a service under a contract.

We support greater transparency in public service delivery and contracting, but what would the changes mean in practice for charities? Read Douglas’ blog and tell us what you think.

VCSEs: a bidder’s guide to working with government

The Office for Civil Society, with support from the Cabinet Office, has written a guide for voluntary, community, and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations considering selling to central and local government or becoming part of the supply chain for delivering public services.

The guide is designed to give an overview of the process, with some practical examples of how to find opportunities and bid successfully.

NHS Assembly

Individuals from voluntary organisations and user groups may be interested in applying to be on the NHS Assembly.

The NHS Assembly will bring together a range of individuals from across the health and care sectors at regular intervals to advise the joint boards of NHS England and NHS Improvement on the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan (LTP).

Brexit scrutiny

The Public Law Project (PLP) is running the SIFT Project, which aims to scrutinise the statutory instruments created to proceed with Brexit, checking they conform to public law standards and do not undermine fundamental rights.

The SIFT project has already identified a number of instances where statutory instruments have been used to make substantive policy changes as opposed to necessary technical changes, going against commitments previously made by government.

You can read about why this is a concern for charities and why NCVO has supported the SIFT project in Chris’ blog.


The Fundraising Regulator has published an updated timetable for the changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice.

The revised code will be published in summer 2019 and will come in to effect three months later.

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

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