Queens Speech: Charities Bill
There were a number of issues affecting charities contained in the Queen’s Speech last week, one of which was the Charities Bill. Below are five key changes:
- charities and trustees will be able to amend their governing documents or Royal Charters more easily – remaining subject to the Charity Commission and the Privy Council’s approval in certain circumstances;
- charities will have access to a much wider pool of professional advisors on land disposal, and to more straightforward rules on what advice they must receive, which could save them time and money when selling land;
- charities will have more flexibility to make use of a ‘permanent endowment’ – this is money or property originally meant to be held by a charity forever, including a change which will allow trustees to borrow a sum of up to 25% of the value of their permanent endowment funds, without the Charity Commission’s approval;
- trustees will be able to be paid for goods provided to a charity in certain circumstances, even if not expressly stated in the charity’s governing document (currently trustees can only be paid for supply of services). From pencils to paint, this will allow charities the flexibility to access goods from trustees when it is in the best interests of the charity (e.g. if cheaper), without needing Charity Commission permission;
- charities will be able to take advantage of simpler and more proportionate rules on failed fundraising appeals. For example, if a charity appeal raises too little money, the charity will be able to spend donations below £120 on similar charitable purposes without needing to contact individual donors for permission
- As part of the pledge to support the voluntary sector, the government will legislate to extend the dormant assets scheme. Under the 2008 legislation, money in dormant bank and building society accounts can be put towards social and environmental causes and has been used to fund a number of youth initiatives.
- The legislation will extend the current scheme to include assets such as investments, insurance and pensions, which the government estimates could unlock an additional £800m. However, even once the legislation is passed, it is likely to take a few years before any new money starts to come in but this legislation will start the process.
As has been widely reported, there were no new proposals on social care.