The Charity Commission has today published a report on its case into former registered charity MSL Mountaineering Trust which details how the regulator’s investigation uncovered evidence which led to HMRC securing prosecutions. The Commission became aware of concerns about discrepancies in MSL’s annual accounts when another charity submitted a complaint. They reported that in its accounts MSL claimed it donated £130,000 to them however they only received £17,000. The Commission made a number of enquiries but it was not satisfied with the responses, and its concerns grew.

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Families Against Neuroblastoma, registered charity number 1135974. The inquiry opened on 13 June 2014. The charity, which was registered in 2010, has objects that include the promotion of the physical and mental health of neuroblastoma sufferers in the UK, and the support of sufferers and their families. The charity currently only has one trustee. The regulator is investigating a number of concerns but its focus is a lack of a proper governance structure at the charity, and as a result the risks that may arise to the charity’s funds or other property.

A report released today, Rising to the Challenge: A Policy Agenda to tackle Low Pay, by The Work Foundation, Lancaster University, will reveal that despite the economic recovery, the UK still lacks an effective strategy for dealing with the challenge of low paid work. The Work Foundation asserts that to have a meaningful impact any low pay strategy must include policies on wages, skills, and productivity in low-wage sectors. The report authors highlight that low pay now affects 5.1 million employees (21%) of the workforce in the UK and that over a quarter of low-paid workers remained stuck in low pay for over a decade.

The Charity Commission has opened a statutory inquiry into Markaz – EL Tathgheef – EL Eslami, registered charity number 328364. The charity is also known as The Centre for Islamic Enlightening. The charity, which is based in London, has objects including the advancement of the Islamic faith in the UK and the advancement of education of the public about Islamic religion and culture. The Commission’s inquiry will investigate regulatory concerns about issues connected with related party transactions between the charity and a company, which appears to run a TV station and is in voluntary liquidation.

Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, has welcomed today’s announcement that it has been awarded £1.25 million from the Armed Forces Covenant (Libor) Fund. The award will go towards the funding of the development of a new £1.65 million accommodation, rehabilitation and training unit at Blind Veterans UK’s Llandudno Centre, North Wales. The new unit will enable Blind Veterans UK to provide vision-impaired ex-Service men and women with medium-length stays of between six weeks to six months to access our life skills for independent living programme.

A Newham homeless charity is in the running for three prestigious national awards this month. Caritas Anchor House, which supports over 200 homeless and vulnerable adults each year, has been longlisted in the first stage of the Centre for Social Justice awards as a project displaying innovation and effectiveness in addressing the root causes of poverty, turning lives around and reversing social breakdown. The Charity Times Awards 2014 have also shortlisted the charity in two categories: Social Champion, for which the charity was runner up and highly commended in 2013, and Big Society.

Two new Statements of Recommended Practice have today been published by the joint SORP making body, the Charity Commission and the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. The new SORPs provide a comprehensive framework for charity accounting that all charities that prepare accrual accounts must follow. The new SORPs apply to financial years beginning on or after 1 January 2015. The new SORPs were needed due to changes in UK accounting following the new Financial Reporting Standard that was issued by the Financial Reporting Council in March 2013.

Brooks Newmark is the new minister for civil society. He is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Braintree. He has represented the constituency since 2005. ACEVO chief executive Sir Stephen Bubb welcomed the appointment. He said: “I am pleased to welcome Brooks Newmark to the position of Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office – and minister for civil society. He has a tough act to follow in Nick Hurd but he brings a sustained record of excellence in academia, business and government and this will stand him in good stead.

After the minister for civil society Nick Hurd announced he would be stepping down from his position, leading lights in the sector have been paying tribute to Hurd’s work. Sir Stephen Bubb, chief executive of ACEVO said: "Nick Hurd has been a dedicated and knowledgeable Civil Society Minister, the longest to serve in that role. He has been a fantastic partner to the third sector and a pleasure to work with. We wish him the very best for the future."

Nick Hurd, the minister for civil society, has stepped down from the role as part of David Cameron’s reshuffle ahead of next year's General Election. The Prime Minister is yet to announce a successor to Hurd. Hurd tweeted his departure last night: “Am standing down having been given by DC the rare opportunity to do six years in a wonderful brief. Very proud of what we achieved.” He then added four more tweets: “Thanks to so many friends and critics in our brilliant voluntary sector. You have often driven me nuts but my respect and love is undimmed.”


The Charity Commission has published revised guidance on Common Investment Funds (CIFs) and Common Deposit Funds (CDFs) ahead of compliance with a new European Directive which becomes compulsory on 22nd July 2014. CIFs and CDFs are pooled investment funds that only charities can invest in. As registered charities they are regulated under charity law by the Charity Commission and as investment funds, their managers are subject to oversight by the Financial Conduct Authority.

With the General election less than a year away, the Charity Commission, the regulator of charities in England and Wales, is urging charities to follow new guidance on campaigning for charities, produced by the Electoral Commission, and to follow its own rules on political campaigning. Charities and Campaigning, published by the Electoral Commission, explains the rules of charity law and electoral law so that charities can ensure they comply with all the relevant legislation when campaigning in the run up to an election. The regulator is urging charities to read and follow this guidance, as well as the Commission’s own guidance Speaking out – Campaigning and political activity by charities.

NHS England has formed a steering group to develop a national health and care commissioning framework for people with learning disabilities. The group will be chaired by Sir Stephen Bubb, the chief executive of charity leaders network ACEVO. It will work with the healthcare, charity and voluntary sectors, as well as with people with learning disabilities and their families to set out a framework to guide more innovative and integrated local commissioning of healthcare and housing to best support people with learning disabilities at home and in their communities, reducing reliance on hospital care.


FEATURES

Kate Lee turned around her charity to boost its income, service satisfaction rates and staff morale. She is a Jack Russell of the charity CEO world, she tells Andrew Holt

There has been a year-on-year increase in donations via IT Apps. But, finds Julie Howell, charities can still take more advantage of new App opportunities

There is a hope we have entered a new investment era that could open up a period of dynamic asset allocation. Andrew Holt analyses the investment strategies open to charities

Tracey Gyateng argues that a better use of data by charities helps them improve their operational effectiveness, the service they provide to their beneficiaries and the outcomes they achieve

The passing of the Lobbying Bill means that the nature of charity campaigning could change. But Becky Slack finds many in the sector advising charities to stand their ground

Andrea Cooper explains why tackling the lack of social mobility and access to opportunity for young people is an essential sector and society problem



Has your investment manager downgraded your service?

February-March 2014: Trustees & CEO Pay

Trustees came under the spotlight last year because of their reluctance to defend
the salaries of their chief executives. The sector has since offered trustees opportunities to learn from the experience. It is an opportunity they must take, argues Andrew Holt

December/January 2013-14: Impact Leadership

Tris Lumley takes the reader on an in-depth journey analysing impact
leadership, arguing that impact starts with leadership

August/September 2013 Cover Story: Revisiting the Big Society

Andrew Holt searches through the maze that is the Big Society for meaning

June/July 2013 Cover Story: Testing times, big opportunities

Contrasting sector evidence suggests the fundraising environment is tougher than it has ever been while other data suggests it is indeed tough but equally ripe with opportunity. Hugh Wilson unravels the debate


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April/May 2013 Cover Story: Measuring Impact

Impact measurement is the current sector zeitgeist. Hugh Wilson finds charities embracing it to keep funders happy and arguments over the measurement of data, but ultimately, the benefits of good impact measurement are significant and the idea is here to stay

February/March 2013 Cover Story: Are charities special?

What is the role of charities? Are they unique? Or do charities increasingly ape what other organisations can do just as well? Hugh Wilson investigates

December/January 2012 Cover Feature: The Good Leader

With morale in the sector at its lowest ebb, Duncan Jefferies asks what makes an effective leader and how charities can attract and develop the best management talent in the current environment


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