Charity Policy Round-Up: November 2019

This month has understandably been dominated by the calling of the general election on 12 December.

NCVO has published its manifesto for the next government ‘A bigger role in building our future – our vision for charities and volunteering’.

If you’d like to hear what the parties have to say about charity policy, we’re holding a hustings with CAF in Westminster on Wednesday 4 December, and there’s still time to register and submit a question. If you can’t make it in person, watch out for details of the live stream from our social media accounts.

We’ve also been supporting our members to help them understand the rules about campaigning in the run up to an election. In particular we ran a webinar on charity campaigning and electoral law with Bond and Bates Wells.

If you missed it, you can read Douglas’ blog that explains the new Electoral Commission guidance on the non-party campaigning rules.

I’d also recommend Chris’ blogs about what charities need to know about the general election and how they can prepare, and identifying some of the key issues emerging from the pre-election debates that charities should be aware of.

The Charity Commission also published a special edition of CC News, reminding charity trustees about their responsibilities in the run up to the general election, and where to find the relevant guidance.

The Information Commissioner’s Office has published guidance on the use of personal data in campaigning in the run up to an election. This is relevant to charities as well, if they’re processing personal data as part of their campaigning activities.

Hinton Lecture

This year’s Hinton Lecture was delivered by the Princess Royal, who spoke about her role as patron of Save the Children UK and the importance of volunteering. HRH also stressed the importance of charities maintaining their independence, expressed her concerns about organisations taking on contracts for local services they aren’t familiar with, and encouraged people to get involved and support existing organisations rather than setting up new ones.

You can read coverage of Princess Anne’s lecture in Civil Society and Third Sector.

Proposal for an alternative governance model

At the NCVO/Bates Wells Trustee Conference earlier this month, Philip Kirkpatrick, head of charities and social enterprise at Bates Wells, suggested the creation of an ‘assured unitary governance model’.

The model is the result of acknowledging the increasingly complex environment in which charities operate, and its intention is to recognise that the people ‘having the general control and management of the administration of the charity’ are not always the trustees (as defined by the Charities Act 2011) but those who’re actually running it: the senior staff, such as directors and managers.

The model might not work for all charities, but its definitely worth considering. More details about the structure of this new governance model can be found in Philip’s article.

Charity Governance Code refresh

consultation on refreshing the Charity Governance Code has opened.

The Steering Group is proposing a ‘light refresh’ of the Code in 2020, with more far-ranging changes taking place in 2023. This is because there’s a need to balance updating the Code, with the fact that many charities are still working to implement the principles.

This means that:

  • There’ll be a high bar for changes in 2020, particularly to the seven principles of the Code and their associated rationale and outcomes.
  • The focus will be on additions and revisions to the Code’s recommended practice.
  • The Steering Group will only look at a few areas where there’s a case for urgent change.

The consultation process will run from 4 November 2019 until 28 February 2020.

Ipsos Mori Veracity Index

The latest Ipsos Mori Veracity Index, which asks people their views on the trustworthiness of a range of professions, shows that 45% of the public trust charity chief executives to tell the truth.

Over the last five years, the percentage of people saying that they trust charity chief executives has fluctuated slightly between 45 and 50 per cent. But, for the first time in five years, the “net trust” score (where the percentage of people who don’t trust charity is subtracted from the percentage that do) has fallen into negative figures. It now stands at minus three, down from plus two last year and plus five the year before.

Intervention on health from voluntary organisations

An alliance of the main voluntary, community and social enterprises groups, organisations and networks that support people’s health and well-being has called on the next government to work across parties and departments to focus on people’s health – not only support the NHS.

The alliance, led by National Voices, highlights the need to take a broader view of health beyond services, focusing on what people need for good, healthy lives. You can read the full statement here.

People Power in Emergencies – new British Red Cross report

The British Red Cross has published a new report ‘People Power in Emergencies: An assessment of voluntary and community sector engagement and human-centred approaches to emergency planning’.

The report explores how far local planning bodies, the ‘local resilience forums’, work with the community and voluntary sector to understand the needs, knowledge, skills and capacities of individuals. It reveals that collaboration is variable, which can mean missed opportunities to encourage communities to build their resilience and support their recovery from within.

So, although the focus is on emergency response, the lessons and issues to consider are much wider, and the report is definitely worth a read.





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

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