Governance round-up: September 2017

Kids Company: still to be continued…

The Kids Company story shows no sign of concluding. After more than two years we await the Charity Commission’s investigation, and a High Court hearing that will determine whether the trustees, and chief executive, should be banned from holding any company directorships for up to six years.

In Civil Society, Tania Mason explores the steps Kids Company directors say they took to restructure the organisations finances as well as the implications on trustee recruitment and CEOs acting as de-facto directors.

In her opinion piece on the story Tania argues:

It is hard to shake the feeling that the government is throwing the book at Kids Company’s trustees in order to deflect from its own role in the fiasco. Let’s not forget that ministers overruled advice from civil servants and handed over another £3m to the organisation just days before its collapse.

With a slightly different angle, Steve Hilton, an adviser to David Cameron when he was in Downing Street, has said that the Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh was a ‘poster child for the big society’ and as such was attacked by the civil service and the media. He argues that Camila became a victim of attacks on the big society agenda that ultimately led to the closure of the charity, according to a former Number 10 adviser.

CIO conversion

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has announced that legislation to allow charities and community interest companies to quickly convert to charitable incorporated organisations has been put before parliament. The new legislation will allow community interest companies and charities with company structures to quickly convert into CIOs from January. This follows a recent consultation on the proposed changes by the department.

APPG focuses on charity governance

The All Party Parliamentary Group on Charities and Volunteering met last week with a focus on charity governance. The meeting discussed and welcomed the recommendations form the House of Lords select committee on charities (pdf, 1.7MB). The group also discussed the new Charity Governance Code and focused on the challenge of recruiting and supporting diverse boards. In addition, the importance of creating both robust policies and a supportive culture for whistleblowing was explored. Minutes will be published in the next few weeks.

In the news

Lobbying act

Charities have ‘reacted angrily’ after ministers refused to relax rules restricting them from campaigning during elections despite recommendations in a recent review which was commissioned by the government.

Lord Hodgson, who led the review, had called for the scope of the act to be reduced to include only activity intended to influence how the public vote, and for the period during which its rules apply to be reduced.

In response, our CEO at NCVO Sir Stuart Etherington said:

The failure of the Cabinet Office to address this issue is unacceptable.

The government made a clear commitment to reviewing the impact of this law, and to now reject any changes out of hand can only weaken the voice of those that charities serve.

These reasonable and considered recommendations were recently endorsed by politicians from all parties in the House of Lords, and the government must reconsider.

The minister for civil society, Tracey Crouch, has responded to the sector by promising to work with charities to make sure the rules are understood and give charities ‘complete confidence’ to campaign.

From the commission

Consultation on next year’s annual return

The charity commission has announced a consultation for next year’s annual return. This consultation is the second part of a two-year project that is reviewing the key information that the commission collect and display from charities. The commission say charities that are smaller and have simpler operating structures will answer fewer questions, whereas those that are larger and more complex will be required to answer more.

Chair of the commission

Could you be the next Chair of the Charity Commission?

Upcoming training and events…

Dan Francis is NCVO’s governance consultant. For more regular updates follow @mynameisdanfran or @NCVO on Twitter.

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