Charity policy round-up: July 2020

Publication of NCVO’s 2020 Civil Society Almanac

At the beginning of the month we published the 2020 edition of the Civil Society Almanac. It provides a comprehensive overview of facts and figures related to the voluntary sector, including its:

  • size and scope
  • finances
  • staff
  • volunteering.

Although most of the latest data covers the financial years 2017/18, the Almanac time series can improve our understanding of the challenges that charities are facing today, and possibly in the future.

Update on the Coronavirus Community Support Fund

The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) has announced that applications for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund need to be submitted by noon on 17 August. After which the government funding allocation will come to an end.

It’s important to note that National Lottery funding to support communities in England will continue to be available, so organisations can apply for the NLCF’s funding during covid-19.

Danny Kruger review of civil society’s role in the covid-19 recovery

The appointment of Danny Kruger MP to put forward proposals to maximise the role of volunteers, community groups and charities in the next phase of the covid-19 recovery was the most positive and promising piece of news this month.

NCVO – like many others – submitted a range of suggestions that would build on the strengths of civil society and ensure it can play an even greater role going forward:

Charity Commission annual report and business plan

The Charity Commission has published its 2019-20 Annual Report and 2020-21 Business Plan. These were accompanied by a blog by Helen Stephenson, which looks at the progress made by the Commission over the past year and outlines its plans for the year ahead.

A positive change that’s worth highlighting is that the business plan makes public a new set of performance standards. The aim is for these operational standards, on which the Commission will report annually, to provide a simpler and clearer picture of the timeliness, quality and effectiveness of the Commission’s work, and therefore increase its accountability.

Comprehensive Spending Review

The Chancellor has launched the 2020 Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR). The review, which’ll be published in the autumn, will set out the government’s spending plans for the parliament.

HMT has opened a process for the Comprehensive Spending Review to allow external stakeholders to submit representations. Representations to the CSR can be submitted here.

Business Rates Review: Call for evidence

The government has committed to conduct a fundamental review of business rates. They are seeking views on:

  • how the business rates system currently works
  • issues to be addressed
  • ideas for change
  • a number of alternative taxes.

The terms of reference for the review were published at the Spring Budget, and the review closes on 18 September 2020.

BEIS Committee ‘super-inquiry’ into post-pandemic economic growth

In June the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee launched an inquiry on post-pandemic economic growth.

The inquiry is looking at the options available to government to secure the country’s economic recovery from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic; covering:

  • investment
  • industrial strategy
  • jobs
  • skills
  • exports
  • sustainable growth.

The original deadline has now been extended until 1 September.

We have submitted our response, which sets out a number of steps that government could take in order to achieve inclusive growth:

Reforming, commissioning and contracting

NCVO is continuing to work with other infrastructure bodies to develop practical solutions for reform of the current contracting and commissioning landscape for public services. We’re collecting evidence through an online form to better understand the range of experiences of delivering public service contracts during the crisis.

Earlier this week we were part of a joint event to discuss emerging findings, to explore the variety of responses from commissioners and the impact these have had. We’ll continue to explore the opportunities to influence positive changes to commissioning. Do get in touch if you’re interested in feeding into this work.

The government has also updated its guidance on responsible contractual behaviour in the performance and enforcement of contracts impacted by the covid-19 emergency.

Changes to society lotteries come into effect

On 29 July 2020, changes to the rules for society lotteries licensed by the Gambling Commission came into effect.

Broadly these changes increase the:

  • caps on annual income from society lotteries from £10 million to £50 million
  • limit on individual draw proceeds from £4 million to £5 million
  • maximum individual prize from £400,000 to £500,000 (provided that the lottery proceeds reach the new maximum individual draw level).

Along with these increased limits on lottery income, licensees will be required to comply with new transparency requirements and guidance. These are aimed at providing consumers with the information needed to make fully informed decisions about whether to take part in a lottery. Licensees will need to provide information on:

  • how much is returned to good causes and what good causes they’re supporting
  • how much is spent on prizes
  • how much is spent on expenses
  • the process around the awarding of grants (if applicable)
  • the way in which winners are determined and prizes allocated
  • the potential prizes available
  • the likelihood of winning a prize.

The changes are reflected in the updated licence conditions and code of practice (LCCP) and the full guidance is available here.

Registration of charitable trusts

HMRC and HM Treasury confirmed that all charitable trusts in England and Wales registered with the Charity Commission, or excepted or exempt from registration, are excluded from the requirement to register with the Trust Registration Service (TSR).

This is a positive outcome, which addresses many of the concerns which the Association of Charitable Foundations (with the support of NCVO) raised. This was in response to the government’s consultation on the transposition of the Fifth Money Laundering Directive and, in particular, the initial proposal for all charitable trusts to register with the TRS.

More detailed information is available on the Charity Tax Group website.

Building Back for the Better – a perspective from Carnegie UK Trust

The Carnegie UK Trust has published its contribution to the ‘building back better’ debate: Building Back for the Better: a perspective from Carnegie UK Trust.

The report sets out a series of propositions, backed up by recommendations of practical things that could be done to improve wellbeing. The propositions are:

  • National wellbeing can be the goal
  • The relationship between the state and the citizen can be reset
  • The future can be local (as well as global)
  • Our relationship with work can be remodelled
  • We can build a new level of financial resilience
  • Technology can be for all

Muslim Charities Forum report: The Neighbours Next Door

MCF’s ‘The Neighbours Next Door’ report tells the story of how hundreds of Muslim organisations, local groups and volunteers have been responding to covid-19 over the past difficult months.

As well as providing an effective illustration of the remarkable contributions of many amazing organisations during this crisis, the report highlights the multifaceted and complex struggles that so many are facing across the country, and the necessity of a coordinated and comprehensive response.

 

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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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