In the Queen’s Speech on 11 May, Her Majesty set out her Government’s priorities which included legislation to support the voluntary sector, namely the Charities Bill.

The Bill is designed to address issues in Charity Law which hamper a charity’s day to day activities. It seeks to consolidate and simplify a number of processes, which should reduce costs and save time for charities, whilst maintaining oversight.

According to the briefing notes which accompany The Queen’s Speech , the main elements of the Bill are:

  • Changing the law to help charities amend their governing documents more easily with Charity Commission oversight where appropriate
  • Giving charities more flexibility to obtain tailored advice when they sell land, and removing unnecessary administrative burdens
  • Increasing flexibility for charities to use their permanent endowment (assets or investments where the capital value must be preserved), with checks in place to ensure its protection in the long term
  • Removing legal barriers to charities merging, when a merger is in their best interests
  • Giving trustees advance assurance that litigation costs in the Charity Tribunal can be paid from the charity’s funds

Aarti Thakor, director of legal and accountancy services at the Charity Commission said:

““The proposed changes to charity law will make life simpler for trustees. When enacted, they will ease some of the regulatory pressures, reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and enabling charities to deliver greater impact for the people and causes they are set up to support. Given the additional pressures placed on trustees during the pandemic, this is especially welcome.”

Thakor goes on to give more details on the proposed changes in the Charity Commission’s blog. In particular suggesting that trustees will be able to be paid for goods provided to a charity, in certain circumstances, as well as services.

Wayne Thomas, Partner and Auditor at Bates Weston comments:

“For over a year the Charities sector, like many others has been working under exceptional circumstances. The process of coming out of lockdown, returning to safe fundraising and restoring their financial positions is at the forefront of many charities minds. Any measures introduced by the Charities Bill, that  allow them to focus more fully on day-to-day operations, minimising the bureaucracy whilst maintain strong financial control, will clearly be welcome.”