UK: Round-Up Of Recent Developments

Last Updated: 16 December 2003

Article by Ms Oenone Wright and Mr Guy Greenhous

Originally published November 2003

Charities Bill

We are still awaiting the draft Charities Bill following the Government’s response to the Strategy Unit’s Report "Private Action, Public Benefit"

Public Charitable Collections

Consultation

In September the Home Office issued a consultation document on public collections which runs until 7th December and is available at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/inside/consults/current/index.html

Integrated Licensing Scheme

The creation of a new integrated licensing scheme for public charitable collections was one of the recommendations in the Strategy Unit’s Report and the intention is to create a fair and cost effective system of licensing which facilitates responsible fundraising but deters bogus collections and prevents nuisance to the public.

Local Authorities to Issue Licences

All licensing (including that for face to face direct debit solicitation) will be dealt with by local authorities. Only the smallest local collections will be exempt.

Not only will face to face fundraising require a licence (much of it is currently unlicensed) but charitable collections in supermarket forecourts and station concourses will also require one as licences will be needed where collections are made on land commonly used by the public as a highway, not just on actual public highways.

Lead Authority System

National Exemption Orders (which allow national organisations to undertake house to house collections without having to apply for local licences) will be replaced by a "lead authority" system. This will reduce the administrative burden where house to house and street collections are made in more than one local authority area.

Right to Appeal

Where a licence is refused (either for a house to house collection or for a street collection) any appeal will be heard in the Magistrates Court.

Insurance

The Charity Commission has updated its publication "Charities and Insurance" (CC49). This, together with guidance on the procedure for obtaining authority to take out trustee indemnity insurance (OG100), gives trustees more information on the type of cover that is required, risk management and trustee indemnity insurance.

Charity Commission Powers

The Charity Commission’s powers in respect of the prevention and detection of crime have been extended by the Regulation of Investigative Powers Act 2000.

Funding Initiatives

The Treasury has announced details of "future builders" – a one-off investment fund spread over three years to March 2006. This fund is intended to assist the voluntary and community sector to deliver public services and will include both grants and loans. Targeted service areas are:

  • Health and Community Care
  • Crime
  • Community cohesion
  • Education and learning
  • Support for children and young people

Home Office Funding Programmes

Two programmes have been launched. A £2.45m Development Fund and a £3.8m Exemplar Fund.

The Development Fund will be targeted at development and partnership work where there is currently little voluntary and community sector infrastructure. The Exemplar Fund targets work on proposals and feasibility studies for innovative projects. The consultation period ends on 22 December.

Treasury Guidance

The Treasury has issued guidance for the voluntary and community sectors to assist understanding of Government accounting rules. The "Guidance to Funders: improving funding relationships for voluntary and community organisations" is available on:
http://www.hm-treasury.gov.uk/spendingreview/spendccr/spendcrrguidance.cfm

VAT

Customs & Excise are working on a new booklet outlining VAT basics for charities – this should be available on their website in 2004.

VAT and the Cultural Exemption

Following the London Zoo case Customs & Excise are working on guidance relating to the Cultural Exemption. The basic principle is that a body will only be eligible for this exemption if it is non-profit making, it is managed on a voluntary basis and the trustees have no financial interest. The London Zoo case established that the exemption is not lost where day to day decisions are carried out by paid employees provided that unpaid trustees made decisions of last resort.

© RadcliffesLeBrasseur

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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