Policy, campaigns & research, Policy

Policy round-up for July 2022

From the Bill of Rights to the Annual Return consultation, here's what's been going on in the world of policy over the last month.

Wow, what a month July was. Here’s a round-up of policy news from around the sector:

Annual Return consultation

The Charity Commission has opened a public consultation on the next version of the Annual Return. The proposed changes come with the Commission’s aim to capture more data on charitable activity.  

The main difference in the proposed version is that the number of questions has gone up to 32 from 16. 

In an effort to promote transparency and public trust in the sector, The Charity Commission wants more data on the following areas: 

  • Sources of the charity’s income 
  • Overseas activities or operations 
  • ‘Connected parties’ – for example trustees, donors, and their relatives 
  • ‘Events’ that have impacted the charity’s ability to operate effectively – like a pandemic 

The proposed changes are bound to affect almost all charities, big and small. So, if you’re a trustee or in charge of running a charity, we’re urging you to respond. The consultation ends on Thursday 1 September, click here to have your say. 

Not sure if this affects you? Read more about the Annual Return and how it might affect your charity here 

In the next week or so, we’ll be releasing our response to the consultation, so keep your eyes peeled. 

Banks are failing charities 

A recent survey byThe Civil Society Group has found that charities are facing difficulties in managing their finances because of a lack of proper banking services that cater for their needs. 

The results gathered from the survey, carried out between March and May 2022, showed that the banking system facilitates the needs of businesses rather than charities, meaning banks cannot give charities the support they need. 

To tackle this issue, members of the Civil Society Group are calling for banks to start working in collaboration with charities to better understand them. The Group also intends to form a working group with UK Finance.  

Find out more about this issue here. 

Dormant Assets consultation 

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has launched a consultation on what social and environmental causes should benefit from the further £738 million anticipated to be raised in the Dormant Assets Fund. This follows legislation passed in the Spring, which expanded the types of financial products that could be recovered by the scheme. 

As of now, the Dormant Assets Fund is spent on three causes – youth, financial inclusion and social investment. However, due to the pressure of COVID-19, as well as the rise in the cost of living, the Government sees now as the perfect opportunity to review how the fund is best spent.  

Over the years, the Scheme has been crucial in supporting deprived areas and those with financial challenges, in fact, altogether, it has released a total of £892 million. DSC supports the Community Wealth Fund idea, which would channel more of these funds to local areas and charities. 

What social and environmental initiatives should this money be funnelled into? Have your say – the deadline is Wednesday 9 October. 

Racism in the international aid sector  

In a recent report, Racism in the aid sector, the International Development Committee (IDC) addressed systematic racism throughout the development aid sector.   

In summary the report states:  

“Racism manifests in the very structure of international aid; the sector still reflects the power relationships of colonialism. It shows up in the terminology that aid actors use to describe the people they work with, and in fundraising campaigns which reinforce stereotypes of people in low- and middle-income countries as helpless and in need of saving.”  

It sets out many recommendations that the aid sector can adopt to tackle systemic racism, here’s a selection of them: 

  • The facilitation by FCDO of sector-wide initiatives on improving diversity, equity and inclusion and a full audit of pay structures in its own aid contracts; 
  • The banning by aid organisations of all-White recruitment boards and the implementation of other policies to build inclusive cultures and encourage diverse talent to apply for senior roles; and 
  • An end to pictures of ‘degrading stereotypes’ in fundraising publicity, and the use of realistic stories that educate audiences about the drivers of poverty 
  • The aid sector should have a conversation that includes the communities it works with to develop positive and inclusive working terminology, the FCDO should consider how it can lead this work. 

 Read the full report here. 

The Bill of Rights had its first reading on Thursday 22 June 

Just days after European courts blocked the deportation of some asylum seekers from Britain to Rwanda, the Government introduced the Bill of Rights to the House of Commons for its first reading.  

If passed, The Bill of Rights will repeal and replace the Human Rights Act 1996 (HRA), leaving the UK courts free from the influence of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). Although we will still remain a signatory of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), under this Bill, the UK will no longer have to abide by the Court’s precedent 

Many human rights organisations and charities oppose the overturning of the HRA, seeing it as an essential piece of legislation that strongly protects the rights of UK citizens and refugees. And they’re not alone. Back in 2021, the Independent Human Rights Act Review (IHRAR) panel stated that they found no real reasons for the overturning of the HRA and more recently, the Committee on Human Rights (JCHR) came to the same conclusion and is now doing a call for evidence. 

So why is the Government pushing for the Bill of Rights? 

It was in the Conservative Party manifesto, and in the words of Dominic Raab, the Bill “will strengthen our UK tradition of freedom whilst injecting a healthy dose of common sense into the system”. In the Government’s language it wants to ‘take back control’, despite the fact that the UK helped found the current system decades ago. 

What can we do? 

There are many ongoing campaigns against what the Government wants to do, so get involved and raise awareness of this issue. Additionally, you can write to your MP, click here to see what steps you need to take to do this. 

Find out more about the Bill of Rights here.