Public Policy Round-Up: August 2017

Call for changes to the Lobbying Act

NCVO and over 100 charities have signed up to a letter to the new minister Tracey Crouch, calling for implementation of Lord Hodgson’s review of the Lobbying Act.

The letter, while recognising that regulation of campaigning in the run up to an election is necessary, highlights some of the difficulties that the Act has caused to charities and asks for the changes recommended by Lord Hodgson.

NCVO has consistently said that changes such as a better definition of controlled expenditure and a shorter regulated period would greatly improve the Act, and ensure a better balance between preventing undue influence during elections and enabling legitimate non-party political campaigning by charities.

Charity Commission guidance on grant funding an organisation that isn’t a charity

The Commission has published the final version of its guidance on grant funding an organisation that isn’t a charity. The guidance was originally published in draft in February 2016 and was subject to an informal consultation process.

The guidance has been revised in a number of areas since the draft version. A key improvement is the removal of a statement that non-charities’ ‘core costs’cannot be met by charities. The new guidance provides that:

A charity can grant fund the support costs of activities, services or outcomes delivered by another organisation that is not a charity, provided these are intended only to further the charity’s own purposes. The charity must not fund any costs which are outside its purposes.

House of Lords committee on citizenship and civic engagement

A new House of Lords committee on citizenship and civic engagement has been announced, with Lord Hodgson as chair.

The committee’s scope is wide, ranging from the rights and responsibilities attached to citizenship to the impact of current electoral law on political engagement. You can see the full list of issues that the committee is focusing on here.

The committee has issued a call for evidence and is asking for submissions by 8 September.

My colleague Chris Walker has written a blog on how to engage with the committee, and what NCVO will be doing.

Government plans for new UK data protection law

The Government has published a statement of intent in relation to the data protection bill, which sets out some of the main aims and objectives in relation to the bill. The purpose of the new legislation is primarily to put the GDPR provisions into UK law so that at the point when the EU regulation no longer applies, there will be UK equivalent law in place.

The following points are of particular relevance to charities:

  • There will be a derogation which will allow the DBS system to continue to work as it currently does (the GDPR restricts the organisations that can process data on criminal convictions, which would mean, effectively, that charities could not review criminal record checks).
  • The research exemption will be used, and continue as it currently does under the Data Protection Act.

In the meantime, the Information Commissioner has launched a series of blogs to bust some of the myths that have developed around GDPR.

Cyber security in charities

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) published a report on cyber security in charities, which concludes that the majority of charities lack skills and understanding about cyber security. The report acknowledges that charities face many barriers when it comes to engaging with the issue, including competing priorities for time and resources, and staff not necessarily being equipped with the knowledge and skills to deal with the issue. It recommends basic awareness raising among staff and trustees, and up-skilling of those responsible for cyber security so that they know the basic technical controls that can be put in place.

NCVO’s Knowhow Nonprofit has a number of resources that can help:

Changes to the Code of Fundraising Practice

The Fundraising Regulator has published changes to several key areas of the Code of Fundraising Practice.

The Code changes include new requirements regarding:

  • charity trustees
  • the fundraising ask
  • solicitation (disclosure) statements
  • raising concerns about fundraising practice (whistleblowing)
  • charity collection bags
  • fundraising agreements and monitoring third party compliance.

The revised Code of Fundraising Practice can be found here.

Charities have been given a timetable for implementation which shows that for some changes the Fundraising Regulator is allowing time to adjust training and compliance monitoring processes.

New rules for society lotteries

The Gambling Commission has launched a consultation on new rules for society lotteries.

The consultation sets out proposals for new rules that seek to improve transparency for society lottery players. The aim is to make it easier for consumers to understand where money raised from society lottery ticket sales is going. The consultation closes on 30 September 2017.

Grenfell Inquiry

Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s Grenfell Tower Inquiry has published its terms of reference.

NCVO made a submission to the consultation on the inquiry’s work.

Our submission recommended that the inquiry should cover the following issues:

  • The adequacy and appropriateness of the governance structures of the organisation managing the building, as part of the inquiry’s consideration of the relevant contributing factors to the cause of the fire and the handling of residents’ concerns prior to the fire.
  • The local response and management in the aftermath of the tragedy, including a review of the framework under which public services and voluntary organisations are coordinated in such emergencies, so that future response and recovery is carried out as effectively and efficiently as possible.
  • Whether it is necessary to create mechanisms that allow for effective fundraising and funding distribution for immediately affected victims and for community recovery and development in the wake of future emergencies of this nature.

The announcement of the terms of reference has seen a mixed reaction: while they set a broader remit than expected in that the inquiry will look at the emergency and the government/Ccouncil’s response to the disaster, there has been disappointment about the fact that it will not look at the policy and politics surrounding social housing and the level of investment in recent years.

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