New SORP-making process announced following governance review
The Charities SORP-making body has announced plans to change the way the charity accounting framework is developed so it better serves the public. A governance review of the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) earlier this year made several recommendations for reform, which have all been accepted by the agencies which constitute the SORP-making body: the Charity Commission for England and Wales, OSCR the Scottish Charity Regulator, and the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland. Nigel Davies, joint chair and head of accountancy services at the Charity Commission, said: "We know from our own research that the public care deeply about financial transparency from charities. Charity accounts are an important opportunity for trustees to communicate the difference they are making; today’s announcement reflects our joint commitment to ensure that charity accounts work for those that matter - beneficiaries and the public." Myles McKeown, Joint Chair and Head of Compliance and Enquiries at the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, said: "The recent governance review highlighted some positive aspects of the SORP development process, but it also made some constructive suggestions, particularly that charity reporting and accounting must become more user-focused. The changes we are introducing today will lay important foundations to ensure the SORP can continue to be fit for purpose."
Civil society minister details her top priorities
Newly-appointed civil society minister Baroness Barran says she has three priorities in her role: a focus on building more resilient communities, noting that "civil society organisations can play [a role] in healing some of the divisions that we can see today, whether those are Brexit-shaped divisions or religious, ethnic, generational, class or whatever they might be;” a “broader” and “more universal” approach by government to young people; and a look at how central and local government can better invest money through commissioning with the voluntary and community sector. On Brexit, she says: “We’re very focused on it. There’s a team here who are dedicated to making sure that the particular issues that relate to civil society are taken into account, and that the general issues that might affect everybody are communicated in a way that ensures civil society organisations see themselves in that communication." But Civil Society notes that she has little to say about what level of funding charities can expect to help them deal with the impact of Brexit or replacements for EU funding.
NCVO wants stronger links with Europe
Outgoing National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) chief executive Sir Stuart Etherington has signed a joint declaration of unity with his counterparts in France and Germany in a move that will see him lead a project designed to strengthen the representative body’s ties with Europe. Sir Stuart's last day at the helm of NCVO was Friday and Karl Wilding has now taken over - but he will remain with NCVO until his official retirement date at the end of the year. In a blog post, Sir Stuart wrote: “I know from my time serving on the European Economic and Social Committee, a group that brings together civil society across Europe to inform policy-making, that there is a great deal charities in different countries can do to learn from and support one another . . . Whatever happens politically, we should ensure we are doing what we can to strengthen these links.”
Number of charity leaders on BAME index almost doubles
This year’s BAME 100 Business Leaders index includes 20 Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals from civil society organisations - almost twice as many leaders from the charity sector in the 2017 index (11). The ranking of talent was compiled by diversity experts Green Park to “debunk the myth that diverse talent does not exist.” Kai Adams, partner and head of the charities and social enterprise practice at Green Park, said: “Charities must address their talent strategy, processes and suppliers, or risk losing relevance with the communities they serve." He added: “In 2018, our placements across charities and social enterprises were 20% BAME overall and 27% BAME at chair and trustee level despite a sector average of just 6.6% . . . Therefore, the old excuse of not being able to find diverse and suitably qualified talent does not hold water."
Charity Update Civil Society
Charities must prepare for no-deal Brexit, NCVO warns
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has published new guidance in which the representative body says charities must continue to make "urgent" preparations for a no-deal Brexit. The warning from NCVO comes despite legislation which requires Prime Minister Boris Johnson to delay Brexit if an agreement has not been reached with the European Union. Ben Westerman, NCVO’s Brexit analyst, said: "Reviewing the potential impacts of Brexit for your organisation and your cause is an essential part of good governance. The consequences of a no-deal exit will be different for each charity, but . . . It’s particularly important that you review what you need to do now, don’t simply take a ‘wait and see’ approach, as developments could happen very quickly." He added: "There is still some risk of a no-deal exit on that date given the need for agreement from the EU. In any case, the legislation only moves the deadline back twelve weeks, which means preparation is still urgent."
Charity Times Civil Society
Supply chain must be front of mind
The Charity Retail Association (CRA) says charities must not ignore the operational practices of their supply chain. CRA chief executive Robin Osterley said bad practice by a commercial partner could damage a charity’s reputation. He was speaking at the launch of the association’s kitemark scheme for businesses that sell unsold goods from charity shops. “There is a potential reputational risk for charities who are dealing with unknown quantities in terms of the companies they are selling clothing and other things to . . . It is no longer possible for [charities] to just bury their heads in the sand . . . and say ‘we no longer care what is going on out there,’" he said, citing examples of partner companies engaged in practices that could be described as modern slavery.
Faith-based charities contend with “challenging climate”
The inaugural Faith Charities Forum has heard how faith-based charities work in a “challenging climate” in which they face an "additional level of scrutiny" that is based on "inaccurate" perceptions. Islamic Relief Worldwide’s head of governance Khaleel Desai and head of media and external relations Simona French led a session at the event that considered some of the issues faced by faith charities. Among other advice, the pair recommended that those in governance at the trustee level are “fully engaged in the risks” that come with the challenges.
Academy trustees disqualified over pupil radicalisation attempts
Five trustees who ran an east London academy where a teacher tried to radicalise pupils have been disqualified from any similar roles. The Charity Commission investigated Essex Islamic Academy in Barking after Umar Ahmed Haque was convicted of terrorism offences last year. He was initially recruited as an administrative assistant by the academy but he later began teaching classes unsupervised to about 80-100 children. The commission found the trustees had failed to safeguard pupils as young as 11 who were shown videos created by the Islamic State group.
Retailers missing out on revenue by overlooking disabled
Disability charity Purple says retailers could be missing out on “millions of pounds in revenue” by failing to take the needs of disabled shoppers into account. Research by Purple found that two-thirds of disabled shoppers in the UK have struggled to make a purchase at some point, with most of these people repeatedly coming up against obstacles. Four-fifths of disabled people surveyed said businesses could do more to be accessible. Purple CEO Mike Adams said: “By turning their backs on disabled shoppers, businesses are losing out on millions of pounds of revenue every year. Small changes can make a big difference.”
The I The Scotsman
No respite for unpaid carers, warns charity
A charity says 4m unpaid carers have likely not had a proper break in five years. Research from Carers UK found that 54% of those looking after loved ones were unable to take a break. Half of the 1,000 people polled by the charity said that if they got a break they would spend it catching up on sleep, whilst a third said they would use it to see a doctor about their own health. Freedom of Information data shows that in the last two years eight in 10 of local councils have cut funding that would allow carers to have a break. Carers UK wants the government to double the money handed to local authorities.
Two-in-five patients don’t have visitors
Two-fifths (40%) of patients on UK hospital wards get no visitors, say the NHS nurses who care for them. The Royal Voluntary Service charity commissioned a poll of 200 nurses working in acute hospitals in Britain. As well as being socially isolated, having no visitor to help with the "small" things, such as cutting up food or refilling a water glass, can delay a patient's recovery, the nurses say. They want more people to become volunteer visitors and helpers.
Blackpool park is voted UK’s best
Just days after being voted the best in England, a Blackpool park has now been named the best in the UK. The Grade II-listed Stanley Park, which opened in 1926, beat 364 parks and green spaces in a public vote organised by the charity Fields in Trust. The win received praise from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who tweeted their congratulations. John Blackledge, director of community and environmental services at Blackpool Council, said it was all down to hard work from staff and volunteers.