Policy, campaigns & research, Policy

DSC policy update – week commencing 15 February 2021

DSC Researcher, Rebecca Eddington, rounds up the policy news from around the sector.

Here’s a summary of some of the happenings in the world of charities over these past few days.

Learning from the Kids Company Judgement

Last Friday, the High Court dismissed the case against the founder and former trustees of the Kids Company. After its abrupt closure in 2015, the Official Receiver wanted to secure disqualification for Camila Batmanghelidjh, the founder and former CEO, and seven trustees from having senior positions for up to six years. Our trustee, Andrew Purkis, has written a summary – Learning from the Kids Company Judgement. It details the conclusions made around reserves, risk, governance and whether the charity had an unsustainable business model. Andrew also describes how the judgement has ‘modified’ his opinion that the charity ‘was a case study in poor governance, with an overmighty Founder/CEO and an irresponsible, even hubristic, reliance on contacts with the powerful (especially the Government) and well-off rather than a proper reserves policy and the disciplines that most large charities take for granted’ that was based on press coverage and conversations in the sector. Do read to find out why!

‘Empire row’ meeting called by Oliver Dowden

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, has summoned a meeting with 25 heritage bodies, including the National Trust, over the ‘empire row’. The meeting has obviously sparked some controversy and Third Sector have published this article where they describe the meeting as ‘being seen as an escalation of the government’s “war on woke” against so-called “cancel culture”, amid concern at senior levels in the government over what it sees as attempts to rewrite Britain’s past.’ The article also contains a comment from Jay Kennedy, our Director or Research and Policy on the meeting, who said: “The idea that a fact-based analysis of the central role of slavery and colonialism over the past 500 years of British history and economic development is somehow now being warped by ‘ideology’ or ‘woke activists’ is double-speak and historical malpractice.”

The National Lottery Community Fund have appointed a new chair, Blondel Cluff

Cluff is Chief Executive of the West India Committee charity and said this about her appointment: ‘Communities are the very lifeblood of a nation and, as such, I am honoured to have the opportunity to support them as chair of the NLCF at such an important time for us all’.

Charities submit evidence for government funding enquiry

Charities who received funding from the government’s £750 million Covid – 19 funding package can now submit evidence for the inquiry into well the funding has been distributed and whether it is achieving its objectives. How the funding was distributed came under heavy criticism from the sector last year, as it took months to much needed funds to reach charities. Senior officials from both DCMS and the Charity Commision will be questioned. Further information and evidence can be submitted through this webpage here.

Over 50 funders have promised to be more ‘open and trusting, and make grants in a way that reflects the realities facing charities and social enterprises’

The campaign has been coordinated by the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) in collaboration with London Funders to make funding more flexible and easily accessible for charities in these uncertain times. The #FlexibleFunders campaign hopes that the commitments will extend beyond the pandemic and become standard practice amongst grant makers.

Lastly, social media users please show your support for the the #NeverMoreNeeded #RightNow campaign which launches today (Wednesday 17 February). Use the hashtag (#RightNow) to ‘send a public message to government that charities urgently need an Emergency Support Fund so they can provide vital support to our communities and causes.’ You can also sign The Open Letter here.