Charities and Social Enterprise update – Autumn 2016

The word ‘social’ has been cropping up a lot lately. There has been:

  • SEUK’s launch of the ‘Buy Social Corporate Challenge’ at Downing Street where there was a great buzz and plenty of promises made by several larger corporates to buy more from social enterprises (the aim is to get £1bn of expenditure by 2020)
  • the New Philanthropy Capital (NPC) summary of the first two years of Social Investment Tax Relief. This includes a note of the deals completed to date using SITR
  • the £80m Life Chances Fund to help grow the Social Impact Bond (“SIB”) market and to help pay for interventions designed to meet the more difficult social challenges
  • the Social Finance-authored report “Social Impact Bonds: the early years” which pulls together experience of SIBs both in the UK and further afield
  • Finally we always like to remind our readers of Social Saturday, which took place on 15 October 2016, which is always a great opportunity to celebrate the wonderfully diverse work of social enterprises

In other news:

  • the new Fundraising Regulator has now launched with a remit covering all those who engage in fundraising, whether or not signed up to the voluntary Fundraising Code of Practice;
  • in related news, the Fundraising Regulator has issued a consultation document on the proposed Fundraising Preference Service. The consultation is due to run to the end of September so you still have time to comment or, if you prefer, you can pass comments to us and we can collate and pass on. The Charity Commission has also recently published its ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ explaining how it intends to work with the Fundraising Regulator;
  • the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 is now law and different elements are expected to come into force bit by bit, with the first parts (power to make social investments and some protective powers for the Charity Commission) in force from July 2016 and other parts due to come into effect this October (changes to fundraising agreements and the new ‘official warning’ power) and next April (expansion of reasons for automatic disqualification of trustees); and
  • for organisations which are companies, the requirement to maintain and file with Companies House the register of ‘persons with significant control’ is now live and anyone trying to file your Companies House annual return now will see that you have to complete an ‘annual confirmation statement’ instead.

So far as ‘Brexit’ is concerned, at this stage no-one really knows what the long-term impact is likely to be. However, much of the legislation governing charities and social enterprises is UK rather than EU-based and so we are not anticipating any significant changes there. Other parts of the law which may be affected in due course which are relevant to charities and social enterprises include data protection, TUPE, and some intellectual property law.

Even for these areas, nothing is expected to change quickly (if at all) so it is just a case of watching this space. We now also have a new Prime Minister and one of the changes has been to take the ‘Office for Civil Society’ out of Cabinet Office and move it to the Department for Culture, Media, and Sport. At present, we don’t know the impact of this move so again it is a case of waiting to see what this means in practice for charities and social enterprises.

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