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Charity Law

  • NCVO today (Thursday 26 September) announced the make-up of the group that will create the first ever set of standards for charity campaigning and lobbying.

  • Charities have welcomed substantial changes to the government's planned 'anti-lobbying clause', announced today.

  • Speaking at the Civil Society APPG, Charity Commission chief executive Paula Sussex announced that its campaigning guidance, CC9, will be assessed following the general election.

  • Responding to today’s announcement of new funding and legislation to strengthen the Charity Commission, Karl Wilding, director of public policy, said:

    'It's been clear for some time that the Charity Commission's enforcement work has not been as strong as it could be. We also know that it has struggled to deal with routine queries from charities in a prompt manner. This investment and its plans to revamp its work are very welcome and we believe they have the potential to make a significant difference. It's crucial we have an effective regulator that deals quickly with any poor practice to help ensure the public can continue to trust charities.

  • The Charities Act has largely proved to be a good piece of legislation, and the Charity Commission is doing a respectable job of supporting the sector despite its limited resources, according to an independent review being published today.

  • The Charity Tax Commission has launched a consultation seeking views on whether and how the tax treatment of charities – estimated to be worth around £3.7bn a year – needs to be reformed.

    The review, the first systematic look at charity tax reliefs in over 20 years, will examine the role charities play in society, and seek to identify ways to improve the efficiency and efficacy of the current system.

  • A former chairman of Inland Revenue will chair a commission on charity taxation, it was announced today. Sir Nicholas Montagu will lead a high-level team of commissioners undertaking a full review of the charity tax system and develop recommendations to government. The Charity Tax Commission has been established by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), which represents charities, social enterprises and community groups.

  • Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said:

    'I'm pleased that peers supported Lord Harries' amendment on staff costs. Accounting for staff costs remains a particularly problematic part of this bill, as well as constituency limits and the rules on campaigning in coalition. We would like to see further movement on these.

  • Commenting on the Conservative Party manifesto, Ruth Driscoll, head of policy and public services at NCVO, said:

    'It is positive that the manifesto reflects a continuing commitment to the principles of voluntarism and putting power in the hands of communities. Nevertheless, under the past government this desire has been hampered by public spending settlements which have been very challenging for many charities.

  • The government’s response (PDF, 363KB) to the consultation on Transfer of Undertakings Regulation (Tupe) was published today.

  • NCVO has today (7 March) set out its vision for reform and renewal in Europe through its manifesto, Towards a More Open Europe. Elections to the European Parliament will take place on 22 May.

  • Commenting on the appointment of Michael Grade, Lord Grade of Yarmouth, to chair the new fundraising regulator, Sir Stuart Etherington said:

    Lord Grade is a substantial figure with the experience to drive through the changes that must be made. He is a highly experienced chair and he has a clear commitment to public service along with a strong understanding of marketing, not least from his seven years as chairman of Ocado. I have every confidence that under his leadership the new fundraising regulator will become the body it needs to be in order to secure public trust.

  • Before the budget, NCVO and Charity Finance Group wrote a joint letter to David Gauke asking the government to retain the current 80% mandatory relief on business rates for charities. We have now received a welcome response which confirms the decision in the budget to maintain this important relief. We spent lots of time talking to Treasury officials about the impact a reduction in this relief would have, and we are pleased that they have recognised this, and the value of the voluntary sector.

  • Welcoming the changes to the lobbying bill, Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, which first raised concerns about the bill, said:

    ‘Much of the risk to charities from this legislation has now been averted.

  • Responding to the announcement of a 'pause on implementation' on the anti-lobbying clause, NCVO, Acevo and Social Enterprise UK issued a joint statement:

    Following correspondence with the Cabinet Office, we are pleased to see that the government has 'paused on implementation' of its anti-lobbying clause.

    We continue to call for the full and immediate withdrawal of this policy. The clause, as it stands, goes much further than it says on the tin and will deter many charities and social enterprises from making representations to government and parliament.

  • Following the government's agreement to abandon its plan to change what constitutes non-party campaigning, Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, said:

    'The government’s commitment to abandon the change to the test of what constitutes non-party campaigning is a significant step in the right direction. When the new wording is published we will take legal advice and also urgently seek the view of the Electoral Commission, to ensure the revised test meets the spirit and the letter of policy intent set out by government.

  • Responding to the publication of the government’s amendments, Sir Stuart Etherington, CEO of NCVO said:

    "The government’s commitment to address the legitimate concerns of many charities and other voluntary organisations remains welcome, however, the proposed amendments do not go far enough.

  • Advice from a top election law QC has confirmed charities’ fears over proposals in the government’s lobbying bill, due to get its second reading in the Commons tomorrow (today).

  • Commenting on the transfer of the role of minister for civil society from the Cabinet Office to the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of NCVO, which represents charities and volunteering, said:

    We have always championed charities and the remarkable things they do for our society to every part of government. Charitable giving, volunteering and social action are part of the social and cultural heritage of Britain. Charities contribute to economic growth and run high quality, user-oriented public services. They can play an important role in delivering the ambitious social justice programme that Theresa May set out in her first speech as prime minister.

  • Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations – the representative body for charities, said:

    ‘This report reflects what we have said for years. In order to maintain public trust, charities want a vigilant and effective regulator which takes prompt action in the rare instances of abuse. While it’s important the Commission doesn’t throw the book at charities that have made a simple mistake, for too long it has veered the other way, taking a soft-touch approach in even the most serious cases.

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