Public policy round-up: March 2019

Safeguarding training fund

NCVO has been selected to deliver the first phase of the safeguarding training fund announced at the end of last year.

The funding has been awarded by the National Lottery community fund as part of a joint £1.2m safeguarding training fund with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Phase 1 is focused on increasing charities’ awareness and understanding of safeguarding and safe culture by producing high quality resources which will be freely available.

NCVO is the lead organisation of a broad partnership that brings together key national umbrella organisations and safeguarding experts in a shared common programme. Over the next six months we will develop a comprehensive set of high quality resources easy to use materials that will help organisations regardless of their experience so far in safeguarding.

If you have any questions about the fund please get in touch with me by email.

New Charity Commission guidance – charities with a connection to a non-charity

Hot of the press today is the Charity Commission’s new guidance for charities with a connection to a non-charity.

The guidance aims to explain how charities should handle relationships with connected entities such as funders, public bodies and trading subsidiaries.  The Commission claims that the new guidance is needed because concern about the relationships between some charities and non-charities has damaged public confidence.

When the Commission first consulted on the draft guidance, a key concern raised by NCVO and others was around the broad definition of a ‘connected’ organisation. This has helpfully been tightened – although it could have been narrowed further.

But it’s clear that the Commission has listened to the feedback received: the tone of the guidance is more supportive of connected relationships, and overall it strikes a balanced approach between recognising that having these connections can be in a charity’ interests and highlighting issues for trustees to consider.

Responsible investment

NCVO has joined a coalition of charities who have written to the Charity Commission and Attorney General to seek a landmark ruling on whether and how charities should align their investments with their objects and their duty to provide public benefit.

The coalition is supported and advised by leading law firm Bates Wells and includes RSPB, ClientEarth, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Nesta, Ashden Trust and Access.

We have supported this because the law on charity trustee investment duties was last considered nearly three decades ago: since then, there have been so many important legislative and market developments that are likely to mean the law is seriously outdated.

Any organisation that wants to join the coalition or find out more can go to the BWB website.

Launch of ‘Rebalancing the Relationship’

NCVO has launched a new project exploring how large and small voluntary organisations, bidding to deliver services, can work better with and alongside one another.

The work will be led in partnership with ACEVO and the Lloyds Bank Foundation.

You can find out more about the project and how to get involved in Rebecca’s blog.

Fundraising complaints report

The Fundraising Regulator has published its latest complaints report, covering 2017-2018.

The report brings together learning from the regulator’s investigations alongside the data on fundraising complaints, showing for example information about where complaints come from and what is being complained about.

Fundraising Regulator levy changes

The Fundraising Regulator has also announced changes to the levy that will be implemented from 1 September 2019.

The levy will continue to be based on total fundraising expenditure, but two extra bands will be introduced at the lower end of the levy so that smaller charities move up the scale more gradually.








Stronger towns Fund

Theresa May has announced a £1.6bn stronger towns fund. More than half (£583m) will go to towns across the north with a further £322m allocated to communities in the Midlands. Another £600m will be available through a bidding process to communities in any part of the country. Access to the funds will be via local enterprise partnerships.

It is not clear if this funding replaces the planned UK Shared Prosperity Fund which had previously been announced. But in any case we have set out some recommendations on how the fund should be managed and distributed to ensure maximum impact.

Charity Commission Annual Public Meeting

The Charity Commission held its Annual Public Meeting in Manchester on 5 March. The transcript of Baroness Stowell’s speech has been published here.

But it is perhaps the speech from CEO Helen Stephenson that generated most interest, as she said that the long-awaited consultation on charging has now been delayed due to Brexit. There was also much more emphasis on government’s responsibility for taking forward any changes, rather than the Commission’s.

Changes to probate fees

In an open letter to the Ministry of Justice NCVO has joined the Institute of Fundraising, Remember A Charity, and the Institute of Legacy Management in urging Government to reconsider proposals to increase some probate fees so that estates including bequests to charities are not adversely affected.




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

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