Charity policy round-up: July 2019

As seems to have become the norm, summer is far from the time to relax and finally get to the bottom of our ‘to do’ lists. This July has been no different, with no less than a new prime minister in place and a new cabinet. And a new minister for charities.

I won’t add to the many commentaries on these developments, but if you haven’t already I would encourage you to read these two blogs on Boris Johnson as prime minister:

What does it mean for charities and Brexit?

What does it mean for everything that’s not Brexit?

And now for the usual policy bit.

Charity Tax Commission publishes its recommendations

The Charity Tax Commission, established by NCVO in 2017, has published its final report Reforming charity taxation: towards a stronger civil society.

Read Sir Nicholas Montagu’s blog, which outlines the aims of the commission and its key recommendations.

Advocating for a community wealth fund

As we still wait for a government consultation on the UK shared prosperity fund, the Community Wealth Fund Alliance – a growing consortium bringing together civil society, major funders and businesses (and which NCVO is part of) – has published Sharing in Prosperity.

The paper draws together insights from an emerging evidence base about what works – and what doesn’t – in promoting meaningful and long-lasting economic development at a local level, and offers a set of principles that we hope will inform how UKSPF funding is best structured, focussed and controlled.

Charity Commission annual report and accounts

The Charity Commission has published its annual report and accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2019.

The report sets out the Commission’s key activities, and highlights an increase in demand on its regulatory functions. In particular, there has been a 50% increase in reports by charities of serious incidents, concerns raised by whistleblowers and auditors, and a significant increase in the use of the Commission’s legal powers.

New guidance for dormant charities

The Charity Commission has published guidance for inactive or ineffective charities, as part of its work with UK Community Foundations’ Revitalising Trusts programme. The aim is to encourage dormant charities to either close and transfer their assets or to change their purposes and operate more effectively.

Regulating charities in line with changing needs of society

In a recent speech Helen Stephenson (chief executive of the Charity Commission) has set out how the Commission will be delivering its new strategy in the context of changing public attitudes and expectations of charity, and the growing role of the charity sector in society.

It is definitely worth a read for anyone who wants to better understand the Commission’s direction of travel.

But there are also some worrying statements, particularly the insistence that the Commission will not be limited by its formal legal functions and will go beyond the simple fulfilment of its legal duties.

Changes to society lotteries

In an announcement by (now former) minister for Sport and Civil Society Mims Davies, the government has set out a number of changes to society lotteries:

  • A rise in the annual sales limit to £50m (this is £50m less than was widely expected following last year’s consultation which recommended increasing the annual ticket sales limit from £10m to £100m).
  • An increase in the prize limit from £400,000 to £500,000.
  • An increase in the individual per draw sales limit from £4m to £5m.

DCMS also said that the Gambling Commission now plans to consult on measures to tighten the licensing framework for society lotteries: this is because society lotteries should be held to high standards of transparency and that players should have a clear idea of how their money is spent.

Another change announced concerns National Lottery scratchcards and instant win games, for which the age limit is going to be raised to 18 in order to protect vulnerable young people.

It’s also worth noting that DCMS has not rejected the prospect of a future £100m sales limit and has said that it will aim to launch a second consultation on introducing a higher tier licence.

Fundraising Regulator research into public trust

The Fundraising Regulator recently commissioned independent research into its role in promoting trust in fundraising and the impact it has made in this area.

The final report The role of the Fundraising Regulator: public awareness, trust and expectations presents key findings in relation to:

  • public understanding and awareness of the Fundraising Regulator;
  • public trust in fundraisers and the impact of the Fundraising Regulator on this; and
  • the views of the public on the Code of Fundraising Practice.

HMCTS agrees interim arrangement for legacy notification service

In a public letter by Susan Aclan-Wood, HM Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) has announced an interim arrangement with Smee & Ford so that charities can continue to receive alerts about money that has been left to them in wills.

However charities should expect an increase in the charges for English and Welsh named notifications as a result of higher operating costs.

These changes will take effect in August and the interim solution will last one year.

The Enabling State: Where are we now?

The Carnegie UK Trust has published a new report The Enabling State: Where are we now?

The report looks at public sector reform across the UK from 2013 to 2018, assessing the shift from a traditional welfare state to what they call the ‘enabling state’: one that seeks to address inequalities of outcome and gives people and communities more control over the public services they receive to improve their own wellbeing.

The future of health and social care – conclusions from the joint VCSE review

What does the health and social care system want from charities and social enterprises?

This was one of the key questions of the Joint VCSE Review, initiated in November 2014 by the Department of Health, Public Health England, and NHS England to enhance the role of the voluntary sector in contributing to improving health, well-being and care outcomes.

The review published a detailed report with recommendations for national government, local government and the NHS.

It also contributed to the establishment of the Health and Wellbeing Alliance (20 consortia of VCSE organisations working with government and NHS to coproduce health and care policy and practice) and the Health and Wellbeing Fund.

This briefing sets out the chair’s final report on the progress made and the actions still needed.




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

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