Essential Trustee - New Year news: key recent changes on the horizon for charities

03 January 2019

At the start of the New Year, this article reminds charity trustees and senior managers within charities of some of the key recent changes on the horizon within the sector.

The Fundraising Regulator is to start naming organisations it investigates, whether or not a complaint is upheld

It was announced on 26 November 2018 that all organisations will be named in investigations into complaints about fundraising received on or after 1 March 2019. 

To date, the Fundraising Regulator has mostly published anonymised summaries of investigations and the new naming policy will not be applied retrospectively.

When the Regulator publishes its decisions, it will recognise the organisations that have cooperated fully with the investigation and any actions they have taken to learn from the complaint, whether it is upheld or not. The Regulator’s Board has agreed that the new naming policy will help promote and support a culture of transparency and ethical fundraising, and will allow donors and potential donors to make informed decisions as to whether to donate to a particular charity.

All registered charities in England and Wales will need to confirm their charity details and provide any missing information before they submit their annual return

Although trustees have a legal obligation to keep the details on the charity register accurate, the new requirement to confirm the charity’s information was introduced last year.

  • Charities must check that their trustees’ details are accurate. Any trustees who are no longer involved with the charity should be removed and any new trustees who are not already listed on the register will need to be added. 
  • Trustees will also need to provide their home address and telephone numbers to the Charity Commission if they have not done so already. These details are to help validate their identity and will not be shown to the public.
  • All trustees will need to provide their email addresses or confirm that they do not have one. The Commission will contact trustees by the email addresses provided if they are handling a case about a charity they are involved in, and provide trustees with regulatory alerts and updates by email. 
  • Trustees will no longer be able to add a public display name on the charity register. For current trustees who have used the display name feature, this will be removed on 1 April 2019, and their full legal name will visible to the public. If the display of a trustee’s full name would cause a personal danger to the person, the charity/trustee can apply for a dispensation by 1 March 2019, so that their legal name will not be displayed to the public. If a dispensation is obtained, please refer to this link on how to display that trustee’s name in future annual reports and accounts. 
  • Charities will need to provide details of all bank/banking society accounts. The Commission says that it will use the information to make sure that charities are protecting and managing the funds appropriate, where they need to. The bank information will not be available to the public.

A statement of changes to the Immigration Rules was published on 11 December 2018, with most of the changes coming into effect on 10 January 2019

The following changes below that are most likely to affect charities.

  • A twelve-month ‘cooling off’ period is being introduced for Tier 5 Religious Workers and Charity Workers.
    This means that migrants who have previously held one of these visas will need to spend a minimum of twelve months outside the UK before returning in either category. According to the Home Office, this will prevent migrants from ‘applying for consecutive visas, thereby using the routes to live in the UK for extended periods.’
  • Tier 5 Religious Workers will no longer be able to do ‘preaching and pastoral work’ or take the role of ‘minister of religion’.
    The new change will mean that employers will no longer be able to use the Tier 5 route to fill positions for roles of ministers of religion. Instead, these applicants will need to be sponsored as a Tier 2 (Ministers of Religion) migrant.

Charities and trustees should be aware of these changes and if affected by them seek appropriate advice. If you require any advice on immigration, please get in touch with Clare Hedges or another member of our Immigration Team.

On 20 December 2018, the Commission reported that it finds quality and transparency in charity accounts has fallen

Charity trustees are under a legal duty to publish a trustees’ annual report and accounts, by which they are accountable to the Commission and the public.

The Commission said that the main reason why the charities’ accounts submissions did not meet the benchmark was due to the failure to evidence that their accounts had been subjected to independent scrutiny by an auditor or independent examiner, as required by law, and/or not providing meaningful information about the charity’s purposes or the activities carried out to achieve those purposes.

The Commission commented that charities are not doing enough to demonstrate their public benefit, or to explain how they spend their money. Nigel Davies, Head of Accountancy Services at the Charity Commission, says:

“The public want and deserve to know how charities spend their money so this deterioration in the quality of accounts is of serious concern. The trustees’ annual reports and accounts are a key way to build confidence among supporters, so many charities are clearly missing an opportunity.

I would urge those charities that finding reporting difficult to take advantage of the pro forma reports and accounts available on the Commission’s website. We also need to see a step-change in trustees’ attitudes to public benefit reporting. It is disappointing that nearly half of charities fail to explain the activities they undertake and the impact they have. We want to see charity thrive, so charities must be clearer about who they help and what difference they are making.”

The report calls for charity trustees to re-consider the content of the trustees’ annual reports and accounts in explaining the activities they undertake and the impact that they have. Demonstrating their public benefit and how they spend their money is an opportunity to build the public’s trust and confidence in the charity.

This article is for general information only, but we hope you found it useful. If you require advice on how any of these changes may affect your charity, please contact Cassandra Ho or another member of our Charities and Social Enterprise Team.

This article is from the January 2019 issue of Essential Trustee, our newsletter for charity trustees and senior management. To download the latest issue, please visit the newsletter section of our website. Law covered as at January 2019.

To keep up-to-date with the latest news, legal updates and seminar information, please register and select the areas that are of interest to you.