Charity policy round-up: October 2020

Since there wasn’t a charity policy round-up for last month, some of the updates included below happened in late September.

Respond, recover, reset – the voluntary sector and the impact of covid-19

The results of the first Covid-19 Voluntary Sector Impact Barometer have been published, showing that:

  • two in five (39%) voluntary organisations report that their financial position had deteriorated in the last month.
  • more than half (56%) of respondents expect demand for their services to increase over the next month.
  • 60% of organisations said that covid-19 related safety measures have increased their operating costs.
  • 8 out of 10 (80%) anticipate covid-19 to negatively impact the delivery of their planned objectives over the next 12 months.
  • 1 in 10 (10%) organisations expect they are likely to have stopped operating by this time next year.
  • 92% of organisations report an increase in delivering their services online.

For more information read the full report and press release.

The next survey is now open to responses until 9 November and we’ll share the findings in the week of 23 November.

If you can spare the time to share what is happening to your organisation, it will help us build up a picture of what is happening in every corner of the voluntary sector and continue to make the case for more support.

You may also be interested in this event on Financial resilience and vulnerability: Assessing charity financial reserves on the eve of the covid-19 pandemic.

Spending review

It has been confirmed that the next spending review will be concluded and published on Wednesday 25 November.

In a press release, the chancellor said that the one-year review would sit alongside the latest OBR forecasts. The Treasury has also laid out the government’s priorities for covid-19 recovery, job protection and planned infrastructure spending.

In advance of the spending review, the Charity Finance Group has published Civil Society’s role in Levelling Up – Submission to Comprehensive Spending Review 2020, outlining several recommendations as to how government could support civil society in the current crisis, including through the asset up of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, the use of dormant assets and the repurposing of the National Fund.

New social value test

The Cabinet Office has announced the launch of an updated social value in procurement model.

From 1 January 2021 a new social value test will come into effect for government procurements. The social value model which departments will assess contracts on includes:

  • supporting covid-19 recovery, including helping local communities manage and recover from the impact of covid
  • tackling economic inequality, including creating new businesses, jobs and skills, as well as increasing supply chain resilience
  • fighting climate change and reducing waste
  • driving equal opportunity, including reducing the disability employment gap and tackling workforce inequality Improving health and wellbeing and community integration.

The government has said the new approach will apply tests that all bidders, irrespective of their size and type, will be capable of meeting and that this will level the playing field for the UK’s small businesses, start-ups and voluntary and community sector organisations and social enterprises.

To accompany the new approach, the government has also published a procurement policy note setting out information for public bodies on how to take account of social value in award of central government contracts (PPN 06/20).

Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act extensions

The temporary changes to insolvency and corporate governance law made by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020 were originally designed to last until 30 September 2020. However, new secondary legislation is now in force, meaning that many of these changes will now continue until either December or the New Year.

This is good news for companies and charities facing financial difficulty, or finding it hard to hold members’ meetings, as they may be able to take advantage of the continuing flexibility.

The Charity Commission’s covid-19 guidance has been updated to reflect this extension.

Charity Commission coronavirus guidance – trustee and member meetings and the rule of six

The Commission’s Covid-19 guidance has been updated in line with the ‘rule of six’, saying that there are some exceptions to the rule where groups can be larger than six people. This includes providing voluntary or charitable services, meaning you can hold trustee or members’ meetings of more than six people where these meetings are ‘necessary for providing charitable services’.

Job support scheme policy paper

The government has published a new policy paper on the job support scheme.

The paper sets out details on eligibility criteria, conditions and timescales for making claims under the job support scheme.

Within the eligibility criteria, it’s welcome to see that any charity with 250 or more employees that is registered with a UK charity regulator or is exempt from such registration will not be required to carry out the financial impact test to evidence that their income has been impacted due to coronavirus.

Further guidance will be available at the end of October 2020.

Law Family Commission on Civil Society

Pro Bono Economics has announced the commissioners that will head the Law Family Commission on Civil Society, chaired by former Cabinet Secretary Lord Gus O’Donnell.

The 17 commissioners are drawn from all three sectors of the economy – private, public and social. This will enable the commission to deliver on its aim getting all sectors to work together and build inclusive growth, and enable civil society to reach its full potential.

Find out more about the commission.

ICO regulatory approach

The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has written an open letter to UK organisations setting out the Information Commissioner’s Office’s (ICO) updated regulatory approach during covid-19.

The ICO has also launched a consultation on its draft statutory guidance, which details how it will regulate and enforce data protection legislation in the UK.

The consultation closes on 12 November 2020.

New modern slavery requirements

The government has announced new measures to expand and clarify the requirements of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, with which large businesses, charities, social enterprises and now the public sector will need to comply once brought into force.

The intended reforms are outlined in the government response to the transparency in supply chains consultation, and they include the mandatory content of modern slavery statements, a new government-run reporting service, a single reporting deadline, civil penalties, and the extension of reporting to the public sector.

Pooling Together: How community hubs have responded to the covid-19 emergency

Over the past five months of the covid-19 pandemic, the Carnegie UK Trust has been undertaking a series of conversations with communities across the UK, exploring the changing relationship between local government, public services and communities.

Building on the learning from four areas, (North Ayrshire, Renfrewshire, Lancaster and Scarborough), its new report Pooling Together: How community hubs have responded to the covid-19 emergency offers examples of best practice, challenges, opportunities and learning for the future.



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

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