The Year Ahead: 2016 What To Expect - Governance

The charities bill will bring in new powers for the regulator

Nicola Evans
Nicola Evans

Looming largest in 2016 is the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Bill, which is expected to gain royal assent by Easter.

Nicola Evans, charity counsel at the law firm Bircham Dyson Bell, says the way the Charity Commission might use new powers to issue warnings and disqualify trustees will be "especially interesting". There is likely to be another bill later in the year, she says, based on recommendations from the Law Commission after its consultation on technical issues in charity law.

Rosamund McCarthy, partner at Bates Wells Braithwaite, expects new guidance by the commission on grant-funding by charities of non-charities. This grows out of past funding by the Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust of the controversial advocacy group Cage, which led to a judicial review of the commission's intervention.

Sarah Atkinson, director of policy and communications at the commission, says its draft guidance on fundraising, issued recently after the fundraising crisis, will be finalised in 2016.

The Conservative peer and charity expert Lord Hodgson will publish the results of his review of the lobbying act. He is also interested, he says, in "what the trend towards localism will mean for business rate relief for charities".

Evans says it is possible that regulations to allow charitable companies in England and Wales to convert to the status of charitable incorporated organisations will at last be published; and McCarthy says an expansion of the divest/invest movement could usher in more eco-friendly charity investments.

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