Extra funding for regulator ‘should not come from charging charities’, Treasury told

Four sector umbrella bodies have written to the Treasury to say the Charity Commission badly needs more funding, but there should be no ‘charity tax’

Four charity umbrella bodies have called on the government to provide more funding for the Charity Commission, but said this should not come from the regulator charging charities for its services.

A letter from the chief executives of the Charity Finance Group, the charity leaders body Acevo, the local infrastructure body Navca and the Small Charities Coalition, sent on Friday to Liz Truss, the chief secretary to the Treasury, asks for an increase in the grant given to the Charity Commission.

The regulator’s funding has been reduced by about £8m on the figure it received in 2010, and has been frozen at £20.3m a year until 2020.

The letter says effective regulation is crucial to effective regulation and to public confidence in charities.

“Unfortunately, the government is currently putting at risk the billions raised by the public and tens of millions of volunteering hours, by drastically cutting the Charity Commission’s budget over recent years and now freezing it until the end of the decade,” the letter says.

“This is despite rising demand for its services and inflation eroding the real-terms value of the grant given by government.”

It says the solution to the problem of declining resources is not what the letter calls a “charity tax” that “forces charities to hand over donors’ money to subsidise the regulator and threaten its independence in the eyes of the public”.

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William Shawcross, chair of the Charity Commission, said in September 2015 that it was inevitable charities would have to make a financial contribution to the regulator’s services.

He subsequently said in an interview, published in January, that charities in England and Wales might have to pay a levy of up to £3,000 a year to fund the regulator, with a consultation on the subject due “in the near future”.

The consultation has still not been published, due in part to delays caused by the snap general election earlier this year.

The letter from the four charity umbrella bodies says increased funding for the commission should be spent on more public outreach so people have greater confidence in the regulation of charities and to ensure that trustees are supported in understanding their responsibilities.

“The sums involved in funding the regulator from the government’s perspective are modest,” it says. “But the contribution made by the charity sector is substantial.”

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Big Lottery Fund offers £4.5m funding to support local social action

Under the Place Based Social Action programme, organisations can apply for an initial £5,000, which could become as much as £500,000

The Big Lottery Fund and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport are offering £4.5m of funding to projects that will support social action in local communities.

The Place Based Social Action programme, which has opened to expressions of interest, is offering up to £500,000 of funding to partnerships that will help people improve their local areas.

Guidance on the scheme provided by the BLF, which will provide funding until December 2024, says this could include activity such as helping people and organisations to take action on issues that matter to them or encouraging new ways of working so that local people have more influence over and ownership of local services.

The guidance says that applications should come from local partnerships, which could involve community members, local charities or business, or representatives from the local authority.

Each application must be endorsed by the relevant local authority and only one application can be made per local authority area.

Up to 20 applications will be selected for initial funding of £5,000 to create plans setting out how social action can help respond to local priorities.

From those successful applications, 10 will be chosen to apply for phase two, when funding of up to £240,000 will be available for each scheme.

Five of those will later be selected to apply for phase three, when an additional £255,000 will be available to each project.

Tracey Crouch, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, said: “People know what are the most important matters in their local areas, and this joint funding will help communities come together and drive the change they want to see. I am looking forward to seeing the positive impact this investment will have.”

Expressions of interest can be made until 28 November.

For more information, click here.

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Social investment should not replace public funding, says shadow Treasury minister

Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, tells the Labour Party conference it should not replace statutory services that should be carried out by the public sector

Social investment should supplement, not replace, public sector funding for youth services and there is a “clash of cultures” between social investment and the charities it funds, a shadow Treasury minister has told delegates at the Labour Party conference in Brighton.

Speaking at a fringe event about social investment in the youth and community sector, Anneliese Dodds, the MP for Oxford East, said social investment was part of a “mixed economy” but should not be used to replace statutory services that should be carried out by the public sector.

“Where I am concerned is that sometimes some of the rhetoric seems to suggest this could actually shift into some statutory services, and for me the whole point is that it should be operating in areas where there is such a high level of risk that local authorities and public funding can’t cover it,” she said.

“I don’t think it should be moving into areas where ultimately we should have proper public provision and where we really need to have that stability of service quality, especially around statutory responsibilities.”

Dodds also highlighted a “clash of cultures” between the predominately business-oriented language used by the social investment sector and the actual role youth charities play in society.

“Even the language we use is really interesting,” she said. “We use the language of social entrepreneurs, but we are not talking about profit seekers but about people who are efficient in their use of constrained resources to get really good outcomes. Why do we attach the label ‘entrepreneurs’ to that?”

Other speakers at the event highlighted problems with the perceived complexity of social investment and about people’s understanding of how it worked.

Anna Smee, chief executive of UK Youth, said that acceptance of social investment was growing, but in the main because of charities’ problems in getting grant funding.

“Three or four years ago, people didn’t know what social finance was,” said Smee. “It was a really big and scary thing and seemed like this crazy David Cameron idea that would never happen.

“Now we are seeing much more acceptance of it, mainly because people have no choice – they’ve been driven down such a challenging funding route they were willing to consider everything.

“But most of the youth organisations we’ve spoken to still don’t know where to go. They’ve never heard of the key fund, they’ve never heard of Big Issue Invest, never heard of Nesta and all the infrastructure that has grown up over the past five years. They didn’t see it as something for them.”

Smee said that youth charities had typically struggled to collect good data and this needed to be improved. Best practice should be shared, she said, to help attract social investment.

Leigh Middleton, managing director of the National Youth Agency, said that many organisations were put off by the “significant complexity” of social investment agreements, and funders were still reliant on data and key performance indicators being met rather than more qualitative evidence about youth charities’ work.

Barry Williams, director of the youth charity membership body Ambition, said cynicism about social investment “is still out there” and he was concerned that some charities were hanging on for the return of grant funding rather than exploring alternative finance models.

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Big Lottery Fund renews social entrepreneurs funding with £2.6m grant

The Big Lottery Fund has given the School for Social Entrepreneurs a grant of £2.6m, renewing its funding for social entrepreneurs.

The grant will support 1,300 social entrepreneurs over the next five years with grants of up to £10,000, building on the 1,300 already supported through BLF’s work with the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme, in partnership with SSE, since the programme was launched in 2012.

Students also attend a year-long SSE learning programme to help them start up, grow or scale their organisation, and receive mentoring from Lloyds Banking Group.

James Harcourt, grant making director for England at the Big Lottery Fund, said: “Collaborations like this allow us to maximise the impact of our funding, and the entrepreneurial aspect of the programme aligns with our commitment to putting people in the lead and having a positive impact in communities across England.”

The sixth cohort of the programme will begin in October 2017. People interested in applying can register their interest at https://www.the-sse.org/lbsep

The local charities support organisation Localgiving is to host a series of webinars in the build-up to the launch of this year’s match-funding Grow your Tenner campaign.

The campaign begins on 17 October and runs until the match funding runs out or on 16 November, whichever is sooner. The focus of the 2017 campaign is monthly giving with Localgiving aiming to help charities and community groups attract long-term supporters.

Donors will be able to support a Localgiving charity or community group by either making a one-time donation which will be matched up to £10 or setting up a monthly donation. After a donor’s first six donations, the following six will be matched up to £10.

Localgiving said it will run four webinars for its member charities: Grow your tenner 2017 – an introduction; Reaching new audiences online; How to make the most of a match fund campaign, and; How to attract regular donors online between 21 September and 12 October.

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People’s Postcode Lottery opens applications for a share of £4m funding

The lottery is offering money to grassroots sports and arts projects, wildlife projects and those which promote human rights

Three funding pots totalling more than £4m are available for charities and community groups from the People’s Postcode Lottery for projects tacking poverty or supporting human rights, wildlife or recreation.

Projects can apply for grants of between £500 and £20,000 between now and 28 August.

The money will be allocated through three separate trusts: the People’s Postcode Trust, which is seeking to fund projects that focus on preventing poverty, promoting human rights and conflict resolution for vulnerable groups; the Postcode Local Trust which is looking to fund projects supporting wildlife, sustainability, play areas and green spaces; and the Postcode Community Trust, which focuses on grass-roots sports, arts, recreation and healthy living programmes.

Clara Govier, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said: “More than £4m injected into grass roots projects across Great Britain will have a tremendous impact in local communities.

“Between the three trusts, a very wide range of causes are supported, so I’d urge groups to have a look at the websites to see where their project fits – no matter how big or small – and get applying.”

More than 400 projects, including sports clubs, mental health groups and wildlife conservation charities were awarded with grants in the lottery’s last funding round.

In a statement the People’s Postcode Lottery said its players had raised more than £221.2m for more than 3,000 good causes since it started in 2005.

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Regulator will require charities to publish details of overseas funding

The Charity Commission will expect charities to include in their annual returns information on the size and source of these funds

The Charity Commission will ask charities to detail in their annual returns any funding they have received from overseas, as part of government measures to combat Islamic extremism.

Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, said in a statement in the House of Commons yesterday that, having finished a long-running review of the funding of extremist Islamic organisations, the commission would require charities to “declare overseas funding sources”. Rudd admitted in the statement that the majority of funding for such groups came from donors in the UK.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission said in a statement that the regulator would be asking charities to declare in their annual returns whether they have received income from overseas and the source and amount of those funds.

“This change is part of our wider work to align the annual return with the strategic risks facing charities and to ensure that charities are only asked to respond to question areas that are relevant to their work,” she said.

“This is information that the public would expect a modern, risk-based regulator to hold on charities, and to make available for the purposes of accountability and transparency.”

She said the plans for the new requirement, which will be introduced for the 2017 annual return, expected to be published later this summer, were already being developed before some of the issues in the extremism review came to light.

The spokeswoman said in the statement: “Since our consultation on the purpose of the annual return, we have engaged in more detailed discussions with sector organisations about the wording of proposed questions to help ensure charities understand the questions and how they will be expected to respond.”

Rudd’s statement to parliament said the commission had in recent months been discussing the introduction of a requirement on charities to declare overseas funding sources.

But Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, said there had been no public discussion about the change and called for a full consultation on the measure.

She said it was vital to ensure that any steps taken to combat extremism were proportionate and effective.

“We have a number of concerns about how requiring charities to declare overseas sources of funding will give useful information to the Charity Commission and help law enforcement,” she said. “It is important that the desire to do something does not lead to us wasting resources that could be better used.

“There has been no public discussion about this change, as there has been in the past with other specific measures proposed by the commission for the annual return.

“It is important that there is a full consultation before this measure is introduced so that the right decisions are made.”

Rudd told MPs that the Home Office review had found that some Islamic extremist organisations “portray themselves as charities to increase their credibility and to take advantage of Islam’s emphasis on charity”.

Some were also “purposefully vague about their activities and their charitable status”, she said.

Rudd said the government had chosen not to publish a report on the findings of the review – which was started in 2015 – because of security concerns.

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Two grant-makers put together £400,000 funding pilot

The Big Lottery Fund and the Lloyds Bank Foundation say the fund is intended to give small charities better support for their local work

The Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales and the Big Lottery Fund have launched a £400,000 funding pilot to give small charities more financial support for their work in local communities.

The foundation identified 22 charities it had recently funded and which the grant-maker believed were in need of additional funding in areas the BLF would fund.

Those charities have been offered a share of an additional funding pot worth almost £400,000 from the BLF without having to go through another time-consuming grant application or monitoring process, the grant-makers said.

In a statement, the two grant-makers said they hoped to help strengthen small charities that are struggling in today’s economic environment and support them to reach more people in need in their local communities.

They said that, after this initial pilot, they would be considering further options for joint working to continue growing support for and investing in small and local charities.

Paul Streets, chief executive of Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, said small charities played a critical but often unseen role in local communities.

But he added: “Small charities are facing unprecedented pressures from funding cuts and, with growing demand for their services, many are struggling to stay afloat.

“As funders, we have a collective duty to believe in those charities that are making a difference on the ground by reducing administrative burdens and doing whatever we can to see these charities better supported.”

He said he hoped the partnership could demonstrate to other funders, government and larger charities that, by working together, large organisations could help to secure the knowledge, expertise and essential public services that small charities offered to communities.

Dawn Austwick, chief executive of the BLF, said: “By sharing resources, we hope to make the funding process easier for small local charities, which play such a vital role in civic life.”

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