NAO to investigate Big Society Network grants again | Restrictions on rail station fundraising | Charities 'must record social media use'

Plus: Brooks Newmark stands down as MP | £80m 'not enough for English Heritage plans' | Mountaineering body to warn challenge fundraisers against litter and nuisance

Big Society Network
Big Society Network

The National Audit Office has opened a new investigation into the payment of grants to the defunct charity the Big Society Network, to determine whether the issues it uncovered in an earlier review indicated a "wider systemic problem". An NAO investigation published in July found that the Cabinet Office and the Big Lottery Fund had failed to follow their own guidelines in the management of more than £2m of grants awarded to the BSN and the Society Network Foundation, the charity that owns it.

Fundraising at 1,000 railway stations in England and Wales will be restricted to charities that are members of the Fundraising Standards Board and file their annual returns on time with the Charity Commission, under a new scheme. The initiative was launched as part of an agreement between the Charity Commission, the FRSB and seven of the nation’s major rail and station operators.

Charities must record employees’ use of social media if it is part of organised campaign activity as specified by the lobbying act, according to new Electoral Commission guidelines. A spokesman said the regulator did not want to spell out how it monitored such activity, because it could help people evade detection. 
Former civil society minister Brooks Newmark is to stand down as an MP at the next election, after further allegations about his private life were published in the media. Last month, he stepped down as a minister after he sent an explicit picture of himself to a freelance reporter posing as a "twenty-something Tory PR girl". Newmark also said he would seek psychiatric treatment for his problems.
£80m may not be enough to turn English Heritage into a charity, according to a "significant number" of respondents to a government’s consultation on the matter. The government announced last year that it planned to turn part of English Heritage into a charity of the same name in April 2015 and give it an eight-year licence to manage the National Heritage Collection of historic sites and monuments.

The British Mountaineering Council will publish a good-practice guide for people who take part in fundraising challenges, in response to increasing problems with littering and people defecating on the mountainside. The organisation for climbers, hill walkers and mountaineers in England and Wales said it was concerned that mountains were starting to feel the strain from events such as the popular Three Peaks Challenge.

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