In the midst of a constantly changing legal landscape, charities should be aware of recent changes affecting them.
- Business rates
Good news! The Treasury have confirmed that charity relief on business rates is to remain unchanged following a review. Charities need to remain vigilant that they meet the criteria for the relief. Those with trading companies should be alert to the issues for such companies sharing occupation with the charity.
- Relaxation of lottery rules
From 6 April 2016 it is possible for charities to benefit from small-scale work lotteries, residents’ lotteries and incidental non-commercial lotteries. Previously this was prohibited. Detailed rules still apply in particular regarding size, who can participate, expenses and prizes. Charities should ensure volunteers and employees supporting community and corporate fundraising initiatives are aware of the new rules and fundraising opportunities. Trustees should consider whether they wish their charity to be associated with such lotteries
- Increased powers for Charity Commission and social investment
The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 is now law, although some provisions remain to be brought into force by later regulations. It gives the Charity Commission greater powers to ban individuals from being charity trustees and to regulate fundraising in future. Charities which use professional fundraisers and work with commercial participators will need to include more details of their fundraising approach in their annual reports, which are available for public scrutiny. There is also a power for charities to make social investments, but charity trustees will need to consider such investments carefully against their investment policy and the charity’s objects, and ensure it is in the best interests of the charity to proceed with any particular social investment.
- The EU referendum
The Charity Commission has revised its guidance on campaigning by charities in the run-up to the EU referendum, following criticism of the earlier version. Charities and their trustees should be aware of the guidance if they wish to engage in the debate, and consider taking professional advice if they are unsure
- Legacy claims appeal
This is the case of Illot v Mitson where an adult daughter was granted a substantial payout, even though she and her mother had not been on speaking terms for years and her mother had left the estate to charity beneficiaries with a letter advising that she wanted them to fully contest any claim brought by her daughter. The charities have now been given leave to appeal to the Supreme Court on aspects of the decision so there may be more to follow from this case in the coming months.
If you have any questions then please call 01726 74433 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.