Charities newsletter – April 2020


27th April 2020

We hope that you and all of those close to you are safe and well in these difficult times we find ourselves in. We know that many charity leaders, whether trustees, managers or volunteers, will be grappling with the numerous challenges presented by the coronavirus outbreak, which will have significant financial and operational implications for charities across the sector.

Trying to ensure that your charity can continue doing all of its good work for its beneficiaries, many of whom will be particularly vulnerable in the crisis, must seem like an overwhelming task in addition to everything we are already facing. With all this in mind, and as the Government has now announced that the UK lockdown will be extended for several more weeks at least, this month’s newsletter will focus on advice and assistance available for the not-for-profit sector at this time.

Coronavirus-specific guidance for the charity sector

The Charity Commission has produced guidance for charitable organisations to assist with how they are run during the COVID-19 outbreak. It addresses several issues, including whether key meetings can or should be cancelled or postponed, whether video or telephone conferences can be used and what the Commission’s standpoint is on Serious Incident Reporting.

The Commission is regularly updating its guidance, which can be found here. Alternatively, we have published a blog post with our summary of the key points here.

UK Government announces financial support package for not-for-profits helping out in the COVID-19 crisis

On 8 April, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced that the Government would be making £750 million of additional funds available to charitable organisations. The cash will be distributed partly through government departments and partly through National Lottery grants. Before the pandemic took its grip, many commentators expressed their disappointment at what was offered for the sector in the Spring budget. However, the circumstances dramatically changed with the coronavirus outbreak and now many have announced their relief that further funds will be made available by the government.

A summary of the announcement can be found in our blog post here. The press release from the Treasury can be accessed here.

Requests to extend annual return deadlines

The Charity Commission is keen to acknowledge the vital role that charities are playing in the pandemic and in doing so has tried to ease some of the administrative burdens where it can. It has stated in a news update here that it is willing to consider any request for an extension to a charity’s annual return deadline.

Charity leaders are encouraged to contact the charities regulator using [email protected] to ask for an extension if they feel it would be of benefit to them and assist them in looking after their beneficiaries and the public. Don’t forget to include your charity name and number to assist the regulator in providing a quick response.

HMRC to allow charities to claim Gift Aid on tickets sold for cancelled events

In an attempt to help reduce administrative burdens on charities, HMRC has announced that where a donor who had bought a ticket for a cancelled event and now wants to just donate the money to the charity instead, the charity can claim Gift Aid on that amount. This should mean that charities no longer have to process refunds so that the donor can re-donate the cash.

For a charity to benefit from this, there are some conditions to be met, which are laid out in the guidance here. As always, the charity should make sure it documents the decision by the donor in case it needs to provide an audit trail at a later date.

Changes to standard and enhanced ID checking guidelines

The COVID-19 crisis has led to the Disclosure and Barring Service making temporary changes to its guidelines for ID checks. The changes made are intended to allow ID documents to be viewed over video link and for scanned images to be used in advance of the DBS check being submitted. Then, the applicant will be required to bring original versions of their ID when they first attend their new role. More information can be found on this link.

NCVO guidance for charity trustees

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has compiled a suite of guidance and resources to support charities, voluntary organisations and volunteers. This includes advice on how to protect people involved with the organisation and what to think about when planning ahead.

A link to the resources can be found here. 

Institute of Fundraising provides advice for fundraisers on Coronavirus

The IoF has issued guidance on their website to help everyone in the fundraising community have the right information to guide any action they might need to take due to the coronavirus. The guidance can be found here.

 

Our Charities team publish e-bulletins to keep you up-to-date with breaking news and topical issues affecting the sector.

To find out more about the Charities team and the work we do, please visit our Charities section.

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