CQC announces new partnerships with charities plus charity sector update28/02/17
The Care Quality Commission (“CQC”) has established new partnerships with six national charities in a move to further improve the experiences of service users in England and ensure that their views are heard.
Under the new partnership arrangements, the six charities (known as the ‘Tell us about your care’ partners) will be able to pass on complaints they receive about a service provider to CQC. Individual service users can already contact the CQC directly, anonymously if they wish, and it is hoped that the new partnerships will further improve the reporting of, and responsiveness to, concerns about people’s experiences of care.
CQC will also use the partnerships as an opportunity to improve the identification of high-quality care provision, so that these can be used as examples from which service providers can learn.
Chris Day, Director of Engagement at CQC, said that “we share common cause” with the charities “in wanting to make sure that our health and social care services provide safe, effective, compassionate and high-quality care”.
The six charities are Carers UK, Disability Rights UK, Mind, The National Autistic Society, Patients Association, and the Relatives & Residents Association.
A reminder: Apprenticeship Levy coming into effect on 6 April 2017
Department for Education
From 6 April 2017, charities that employ staff will become liable to an apprenticeship levy, which will be used to fund new apprenticeships. The levy requires all employers operating in the UK, with a pay bill of more than £3m each year, to invest in apprenticeships.
Charity sector faces increase in business rates
Civil Society; 15 February 2017
According to figures released by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), the charity sector is facing business rates totalling nearly £350m in the current financial year, rising to more than £390m in 2018. According to a DCLG statistical release, the amount that charities receive in mandatory business rate relief will total almost £1.58bn in 2016/17, rising to about £1.77bn in 2017/18. However, the majority of charities will continue not to get discretionary rate relief, meaning business rates will rise.
New draft Charities Bill expected in summer 2017
Parliament; 9 February 2017
The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has said that the Law Commission expects to publish its report on technical issues in charity law, together with a draft Bill, in summer 2017. The Commission has proposed a number of technical changes to charity law that currently impose disproportionate burdens on those involved in the administration of charities, as well as guidance for charities to change their purposes, and rules governing mergers and charity names. The Government will then consider the draft Bill and decide whether to take it forward.
Fundraising Regulator consults on changes to Code of Fundraising Practice
Fundraising Regulator; 3 February 2017
The Fundraising Regulator has launched a consultation on proposed changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice. The consultation concentrates on the “most pressing” current issues and concerns, and is proposing changes to the Code in the following areas: (1) charity trustees' duties to oversee the fundraising activities of their charity; (2) strengthening protection for the public against undue pressure by fundraisers across all channels of communication; (3) a new rule to make it clear that, irrespective of the channel used, a solicitation statement must be given before an individual makes a commitment to donate; (4) a new rule to require all fundraising organisations to have “a clear and published internal procedure” for staff members and volunteers to report any concerns regarding their organisation's fundraising practice; (5) greater protection for vulnerable people who engage with fundraisers; (6) the delivery of charity collection bags; and (7) supplementary guidance on how charities oversee their contracts with third-party fundraisers.
Charities will be exempt from new digital filing rules
HMRC; 31 January 2017
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has said that it will exempt charities from the new requirements to keep digital records of their accounts and file digital tax returns every quarter, although trading subsidiaries will have to follow the new rules. HMRC said that a “significant reason” for exempting charities from the rules is that many of them do not currently have to submit a tax return.
ICO issues eleven charities with Notices of Intent to fine them
Information Commissioner's Office; 30 January 2017
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said that it intends to fine 11 unnamed charities for breaking data protection rules. This follows prosecutions in December 2016, when the RSPCA was fined £25,000 and the British Heart Foundation £18,000 by the ICO for contraventions to the Data Protection Act. The recent prosecutions highlight the importance of charity trustees and senior managers ensuring that their charities comply with the Act. Following the December rulings, the Fundraising Regulator and the Charity Commission have issued a joint alert to charity trustees on data protection law compliance.
HMRC publishes draft legislation to enlarge social investment tax relief scheme
HMRC; 26 January 2017
HMRC has published a draft measure to make changes to social investment tax relief (SITR). It will increase the amount of money a qualifying social enterprise can raise from individuals under SITR and make changes to ensure that the scheme is properly targeted and meets EU state aid rules. The measure will be introduced in Finance Bill 2017. It will apply to qualifying investments made on or after 6 April 2017.
Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Act 2017
Parliament; 16 January 2017
The Small Charitable Donations and Childcare Payments Act 2017 has received Royal Assent and will come into force on 6 April 2017. The Act includes provisions to amend the Small Charitable Donations Act 2012 to reform the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme (GASDS). The reforms include changes to (1) the eligibility conditions for making GASDS claims, including the removal of both the start-up period and Gift Aid track record rules; (2) what counts as a small cash donation (enabling small donations made by contactless payment in the UK to qualify) and how payments under GASDS are calculated; (3) the limits that can be placed on certain GASDS claims; (4) the rules governing charitable activities in community buildings; and (5) the rules governing connected charities running charitable activities in community buildings. The new rules will take effect from 6 April 2017.
Charity Commission consults on the annual return
Charity Commission; 22 December 2017
The Charity Commission is currently consulting on making structural changes to how information is collected from charities for its annual return. The Commission wants some fundamental information kept up to date by charities on a more regular basis, so that the charity register is more accurate. It also plans to group questions asked in the annual return around themes so that relevant questions can be targeted based on a charity's activities and not determined only by the level of income. The consultation closes on 9 March 2017.