Video interviews: Kuhlisa UK | Third Sector

At the recent Third Sector Awards, specialist insurer Markel had the opportunity to speak to charities about the risks they face and how they manage them.

Khulisa works with young people in schools, prisons and in the community to help them understand and tackle the root-cause of their challenging behaviour.

Dominique Airey, CEO of Khulisa UK, discussed safeguarding risks and their developing business model.

As with most charities working with vulnerable people, safeguarding is a huge concern. Khulisa staff and volunteers work in prisons and other volatile environments so safety for both staff and participants is a risk. A constant need to review procedures and have multiple of points of access for communication is vital to the workings of the charity.

This need to review also links to Khulisa’s look towards sustainability and the future of their business model, which may be a move towards a commission based landscape and away from fundraising.

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Sector too ready to use lobbying act as an excuse, says JRRT chief

Fiona Weir, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, tells NPC annual conference that misplaced fears about the act are stopping charities from campaigning

The voluntary sector is too ready to use the effect of the lobbying act as an excuse not to campaign, Fiona Weir, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, has said.

Speaking at the annual conference of the think tank NPC in London today in a session on how charities can achieve social change in London, Weir said charities had a duty to speak up on behalf of their beneficiaries.

“We cannot adequately support people we work with unless we achieve social change,” she said.

But charities’ misplaced fears about the restrictions of the lobbying act were preventing too many charities from campaigning, she said.

“We are far too ready as a sector to allow the so-called ‘chilling effect’ as an excuse,” she said.

Weir said research by the Charities Aid Foundation showed that 84 per cent of people thought charities were best placed to speak up on their behalf, and she encouraged charities to make sure they were campaigning for the beneficiaries.

“We have got to stop squandering our unique selling point as a sector,” she said.

“We see every day how the latest policy pronouncement is not working,” she said, adding that charities must speak up when they found policy shortcomings.

Weir told Third Sector that charities commonly expressed fears about losing statutory funding as a reason for not wanting to campaign. Risk-averse boards were another factor, she added.

She said in the session that there was too much focus in the voluntary sector on the share of large public contracts that charities secured in large government procurement exercises, when they should be asking if those contracts were fit for purpose.

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Kevin Curley: How the sector can influence the future of the NHS

Our columnist finds out how charities are engaging with Sustainability and Transformation Plans

Sustainability and Transformation Plans are being produced by 44 partnerships all over England in response to the NHS Five Year Forward View, the 2014 document that set out a vision for the future of the health service. As someone who is sceptical about yet another health and social care “transformation project”, I thought it was time to find out what local voluntary sector leaders think about STPs and how they are engaging with them.

Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of Navca, the local infrastructure charity, tells me: “For NHS leaders, STPs are seen as the way to deliver the necessary transformation of services, so it’s crucial that local voluntary organisations are involved, helping people to have a say about their own local services. Areas such as Stockton and Northamptonshire show that good engagement with the voluntary sector is possible.”

David Pearson, director of adult social care, health and public protection at Nottinghamshire County Council and STP lead for Nottingham and Nottinghamshire, said in his response to feedback on its five-year draft plan: “With a significant funding gap, we need to think carefully about how we organise ourselves to provide the right care in the right place to maximise value for the public money we spend on local services.”

Acknowledging that a “funding gap” is driving the need for a fundamental change in services is strikingly honest, but is bound to bring sceptical responses. I therefore sought the views of David Smith, chief executive of Hull and East Yorkshire Mind, who has described previous change projects as “doing little more than creating photo opportunities and jobs for the perennial transformation consultants”.

This time I find him taking a more positive approach. “For once we have been able to pretty much set our own agenda,” he says. “When I sit around a table with people from across the Humber Coast and Vale STP Mental Health Group, it’s obvious how much frustration there is with the status quo and how much energy there is for doing things differently.”

Smith believes there is an opportunity to escape the limitations of historic agreements and relationships that have been barriers to change.

Smith has at least got at seat at the table that matters in his area. Maria Ward, network officer at Nottingham CVS, says the voluntary sector secured only three places on the STP advisory group in February after holding commissioning events attended by more than 80 voluntary organisations. An opportunity to influence the STP has now been opened up.

In Derbyshire, a completely different approach has been taken by Kim Harper, chief executive of Community Action Derby, and Vita Snowden, chief executive of Creative Carers. In April they published a “shadow STP” called Local Communities: Joined Up Care, which they want to see “merged” with the official draft STP. Snowden says: “We want a fresh approach where people’s needs are at the heart of everything, rather than a futile reliance on system changes driven by officials.”

The authors describe “common sense” community and self-care solutions, which they claim can lead to savings. It’s a challenging read and a clear demonstration that the local voluntary sector can influence the content of STPs where there is a good leadership.

Kevin Curley is a voluntary sector adviser

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Back-pay issue threatens care sector ‘as never before’, says Mencap chair

Derek Lewis says government should foot the bill to give back-pay to overnight sleep-in support workers, which could cost some charities up to £50,000

The learning disability sector is “under threat as never before”, according to Derek Lewis, chair of Mencap.

Lewis spoke out today as part of the sector’s continuing dispute with the government over who should fund £400m of back-pay for care workers that provide overnight sleep-in support.

Mencap has claimed that, besides the threat posed to charities that employ sleep-in carers, the issue could also affect up to 100,000 families who pay for sleep-in support through personal care budgets. Some, it says, might face bills of up to £50,000.

The row has been simmering for several months after the government changed its guidance on sleep-in care workers. Until recently, most overnight care workers received a flat rate of £35 to £45, according to the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group, which represents charities that provide services to people with disabilities.

But after two employment tribunal decisions, the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy changed the guidance to say staff should be paid the national minimum wage. Sleep-in staff are now eligible to claim for loss of earnings dating back six years.

Mencap began paying the national living wage in April, but Lewis said it would “cause us severe problems” if it had to foot the bill for six years of back pay. He warned that a number of major care providers could collapse unless the government stepped in.

Ministers, said Lewis, had previously issued incorrect guidance and the government should therefore pay. “For a government that spent £780.3bn in the 2017 fiscal year, £400m doesn’t seem like much to ask,” said Lewis.

He said families and care workers were suffering growing uncertainty and anxiety while the issue remained unresolved. Charities also faced uncertainty, he said. Voluntary organisations account for about 60 per cent of the 200 care organisations affected by the ruling.

“The learning disability sector is under threat as never before,” said Lewis. “For Mencap, it is the worst crisis that the charity has faced in its 70-year history.

“About 178,000 people across the UK have serious learning disabilities and depend on the care that charities like Mencap provide.

“At Mencap, we worry about the effect that this is having on our staff, families and the people we care for. Our care workers do a fantastic job and we want to pay them fairly. Since April we have been complying with new government guidance and paying the national living wage, but trying to fund six years of back pay would cause us severe problems”.

Last month BEIS announced “exceptional measures” to “minimise disruption”. These included temporarily suspending HMRC enforcement action over payment of sleep-in shifts until 2 October and waiving historical financial penalties against employers who underpaid workers for sleep-in shifts before 26 July. But organisations still face the prospect of having to find £400m after 2 October.

A statement from BEIS said: “The government will continue to look at this issue extremely carefully alongside industry representatives to see how it might be possible to minimise any impact on provision of social care, and ensure that action taken to protect workers is fair and proportionate.”

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Staff numbers in the sector up by 8 per cent in six years

Figures from the DCMS say the sector employed 891,000 people in 2016, an increase of 8.1 per cent since 2011

Employment in the charity sector has increased by more than 8 per cent since 2011, according to new government figures.

According to figures released by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, the charity sector employed approximately 891,000 people in 2016, an increase of 8.1 per cent since 2011.

This means that the charity sector accounted for 2.7 per cent of all jobs in the UK in 2016.

The figures also show a 2.2 per cent increase in the number of charity workers between 2015 and 2016.

The employment figures include all employees at charities, voluntary organisations and trusts, but exclude volunteers, social enterprises and mutuals.

But the DCMS said the employment figures for the charity sector were an underestimate, partly owing to the recent transfer of the Office for Civil Society to the DCMS from the Cabinet Office last year.

The DCMS figures show that recent increases in the charity sector’s workforce came after a severe contraction in 2012 and 2013 that resulted in approximately 76,000 people leaving the sector.

EU nationals accounted for 4 per cent of the charity sector’s workforce, and non-EU overseas nationals accounted for 2.9 per cent, the figures show.

The DCMS statistics also show that 93.2 per cent of employees in the civil society sector were employed, as opposed to self-employed.

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Sector critical of Lord Grade’s ‘laggards’ comment on fundraising

The chair of the Fundraising Regulator said in a Telegraph article that ‘too many charities are proving to be laggards’ and misinformed the Today programme about the preference service

Lord Grade, chair of the Fundraising Regulator, has been criticised by charity sector umbrella bodies after he said too many charities were “proving to be laggards” and mistakenly said the Fundraising Preference Service would enable people to opt out of receiving communications from all charities.

Grade wrote an article for The Daily Telegraph newspaper today in which he said that the regulator had seen many charities make “a real effort to review their practices, leading to innovative and creative approaches that put the donor first”.

But he said there was still a long way to go. “Too many charities are proving to be laggards,” he wrote. “But they will have to follow suit, whether they like it or not, due to another regulation which comes into force next year,” said Grade, meaning the General Data Protection Regulation.

Grade also appeared on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 this morning, where he mistakenly said people would be able to use the FPS to prevent communication from all charities or hear only from “charities that you favour”.

Information on the Fundraising Regulator’s website about the FPS, which will prevent direct marketing communications from charities by email, post, text message or telephone, says people will be able to identify up to three charities that they do not wish to hear from per online request. If people want to identify further charities, they must submit new requests.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said he was “deeply frustrated and saddened” to hear Grade talking again about fundraisers in a negative way and “misrepresenting how the overwhelming majority of charities communicate with and value their supporters”.

Lewis said: “We know that our members’ relationships with donors is paramount, which is why over the past year charities have supported the set-up of the regulator and helped to shape the FPS.”

He said the IoF supported a strong regulatory system, but in order for it to succeed it was vital that “clarity prevails over confusion”.

He said: “Only then can the regulator fully command the trust of both charities and the public.

“Ahead of Thursday’s launch of the FPS it is essential that the public hear the right information about the service so that the level of public trust and confidence that Lord Grade wants to see can be achieved.”

Vicky Browning, chief executive of the charity leaders body Acevo, said Grade’s remarks were “not helpful”.

She said: “For Lord Grade to brand charities ‘laggards’ in public only serves to undo the hard work of both his organisation and the sector in restoring public trust and confidence.”

Other people in the sector used Twitter to respond to Grade’s comments.

The Daily Telegraph used the article as the basis for its top story today, which says charities could be fined up to £25,000 if they “pester donors for cash”.

The figure is not mentioned by Grade, who said in his Today programme interview that any fines were a matter for the Information Commissioner’s Office.

Grade’s Telegraph article was written before the regulator is due to launch the FPS on Thursday, which coincides with the body’s first anniversary.

A spokesman for the Fundraising Regulator said it would be issuing clarifications to the media on some of the statements made by Grade. 

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IoF gets Arts Council grant to expand its Cultural Sector Network

The £431,832 grant will cover a four-year period to support training, mentoring and peer-to-peer networking

The Institute of Fundraising has been awarded an Arts Council England grant of almost £432,000 to expand the work of its Cultural Sector Network, which supports fundraising in arts and culture organisations.

The funding of £431,832 will be awarded over a four-year period from April and will support a programme of training, mentoring and peer-to peer networking opportunities for arts and cultural fundraisers across England.

In a statement, the IoF said that arts and culture organisations played a vital role in communities and enriching people’s lives, but too many, especially those outside London, faced a daunting funding environment.

“By providing training and ongoing fundraising support, the network will help to ensure these important charities, groups and organisations are able to grow and flourish in the years to come,” the statement said.

The work funded by the grant will focus on linking fundraisers working for organisations based outside London, the statement said, to build up a national network.

The initiative will also help to connect cultural sector fundraisers with the IoF’s eight regional special interest groups and its black fundraisers and sole fundraisers special interest groups.

The IoF will also work in partnership with the Young Arts Fundraisers network on the project.

Martin Kaufman, chair of the IoF Cultural Sector Network, said: “This new funding from the Arts Council will make a huge difference to cultural organisations across England, many of which are struggling to find the funds they need.

“By greatly expanding the IoF’s Cultural Sector Network’s support to build fundraising skills and capacity, it will mean we will be able to support a highly diverse range of cultural organisations to raise the funds they need to continue and to grow their wonderful work across the country.”

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Lobbying act must be repealed or reformed, sector leaders tell government

A letter to Cabinet Office minister Damian Green from a number of sector bodies says the legislation is ‘confusing and burdensome’

The lobbying act is a “confusing and burdensome piece of legislation that ultimately harms our democracy” and should be urgently reformed, charity sector leaders have told the government.

In a letter to Damian Green, the Cabinet Office minister, organisations including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the charity chief executives body Acevo call for Lord Hodgson’s reforms to the lobbying act to be implemented urgently.

The lobbying act sets spending limits and makes it a legal necessity for all organisations that spend more that £20,000 in England or £10,000 in Wales on regulated campaigning in the year prior to an election to register with the Electoral Commission.

Lord Hodgson’s review of the lobbying act, which was commissioned by the government and published last year, called for a number of reforms, including reducing the regulated campaign period to four months before an election and changes to the rules on joint campaigning.

But the government has yet to implement Lord Hodgson’s recommendations, and the letter calls for a meeting to discuss how the lobbying act’s “unintended consequences can be minimised”.

The letter says: “While we recognise that regulation is necessary to ensure that no one individual or organisation can exert undue influence at an election, the lobbying act has had a disproportionate impact on charity campaigning.

“This is despite the fact that, unlike organisations from many other sectors, charities are already subject to strict limitations on their political activity under charity law.

“The excessive and unreasonable red tape the lobbying act places on charities made it harder for them to campaign at the 2017 general election. Charities also find many of the non-party campaigning rules ambiguous.

“We are concerned that this caused many charities not to engage, resulting in some important voices being lost from public debate.”

More than 50 charities have recently called for the lobbying act to be repealed, citing the “enormous administrative and financial burden” it places on the sector.

There have also been warnings that the risk of another snap election after the 8 June election failed to provide any party with an outright majority means the next period of regulated campaigning might have already begun.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the NCVO, said: “There is clear cross-party and sector support for the changes Lord Hodgson suggested. Adoption of them will be an important first step for the new government to show it is listening to charities, which are crucial to building a stronger economy and society.”

Vicky Browning, chief executive of Acevo, said: “Charity leaders have told me that compliance with this ambiguous legislation has significant costs attached, particularly in terms of time, labour and money, which distracts and detracts from their activities.

“It is important that the new government now enacts the recommendations of its own review of the act.”

The Charities Aid Foundation, the infrastructure body Navca, the Small Charities Coalition and the international development network Bond also signed the letter.

The letter comes after a report from the UN Human Rights Council that was released two days before the general election. It criticised the lobbying act’s “chilling effect” on the charity sector and claimed it had a disproportionate impact on charities in comparison with the private sector.

Greenpeace, which was fined £30,000 by the Electoral Commission earlier this year for contravening the lobbying act prior to the 2015 general election, said the UN’s comments showed the act was an “international embarrassment” and should be either repealed or reformed.

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Sector reaction to the appointment of Tracey Crouch

Some charity figures have already been contacted by her, but there remains some doubt that the charities brief can be combined effectiely with her duties for the sports sector

Sector leaders have welcomed the appointment of Tracey Crouch as the new Minister for Civil Society, but have expressed concern that her time will be split between charities and her other ministerial brief, sport.

Crouch, the Conservative MP for Chatham and Aylesford, who has been at the Department for Culture, Media and Sport as sports minister since 2015, was today given responsibility for the Office for Civil Society in addition to her sports duties after the previous minister, Rob Wilson, lost his seat in last week’s general election.

Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said he had already spoken to the new minister, describing her as “approachable and keen to understand her brief”.

But he said: “I remain cautious about the size of a portfolio covering sport and civil society. We hope that the civil society portfolio will receive its rightful level of attention and profile, given its economic and social importance.”

Vicky Browning, chief executive of the charity leaders body Acevo, said the change of brief gave the new minister an opportunity to reconsider the relationship between the OCS and the sector.

“We will wait and see how the new ministerial brief balances civil society and sport,” she said.

But she welcomed Crouch to the role and said: “I’m sure her time as minister for sport, heritage and tourism – dealing with issues such as lottery funding and problematically white, male boards – will stand her in good stead for this job.”

The DCMS initially confirmed yesterday morning that John Glen, MP for Salisbury, had been made Minister for Civil Society, but then retracted this. Crouch updated her Twitter profile this morning to state that she was “sports and civil society minister”.

Browning said this initial lack of clarity had been “somewhat disappointing”.

“A sector employing a million people should not have to wait on Twitter for confirmation of their minister,” she said.

“But Tracey has, within hours of her appointment, shown a refreshing willingness to engage with the sector and we very much look forward to her bringing the same vitality and imagination to the Office for Civil Society as she has to her sports brief.”

Neil Cleeveley, chief executive of the local infrastructure body Navca, questioned whether Crouch would have sufficient time to give the sector the support it deserved.

“Sport and charity are such major parts of our society that they each deserve to have a dedicated minister,” he said. “The confusion over this announcement and the fact that for the first time since 2006 there will not be a minister focused solely on our sector sends out the wrong signals.

“We should not forget how hard we fought to get our own minister or the reasons why we felt it was so important to have our own voice in government.”

The British Youth Council said it would be writing to Crouch to highlight concerns about the size of her ministerial responsibilities and seek assurances, adding that it believed a dedicated youth minister should be appointed.

Jay Kennedy, director of policy and research at the Directory of Social Change, said the complex and important policy issues that come under the civil society brief should be considered “a critical part of successful policy for government”, not merely an “add-on”.

He said the minister should also make it a priority to listen to charities working on the ground as well as the umbrella groups.

“If she could find a way to secure a refund of the £425m taken from the Big Lottery Fund to pay for the 2012 Olympics, that would be great,” he said. As a sports minister, Kennedy added, she and her officials should know this issue well.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Institute of Fundraising, said: “Fundraisers know that sport and mass-participation events are excellent ways to engage people, build communities and raise money for good causes, and we look forward to discussing with the minister how her role can help to harness that engagement to benefit good causes.”

Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, urged the new minister to “work with her colleagues across Whitehall as well as civil society to ensure the government has a positive vision for the sector”.

Peter Holbrook, chief executive of Social Enterprise UK, said he looked forward to working closely with Crouch to ensure the government did not take its eye off the ball on social investment.

Rob Cope, director of Remember A Charity, said he hoped Crouch would continue government support of legacy giving, which he said had helped to quadruple the number of solicitors giving clients the option of leaving donations in their wills.

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