Newsletter - March 2011

LawWorks for Community Groups


 

Ruth Thompson

Newsletter Editor

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Welcome to the March edition of the LawWorks for Community Groups newsletter!

This month there has been a lot of discussion on changes to CRB checks and the new Localism Bill: see below to stay up to date on the debate.

Don't forget to have a look at our fact sheets for useful information on various areas of law, kindly produced by lawyers from our member firms and volunteers from our Choices project. We now have 40 fact sheets covering various legal issues including Employment, Corporate / Charity, Intellectual Property, Data Protection, Property and Tax. Since the last issue, we have a new fact sheet on:

Terms and Conditions for Websites

If you have any suggestions on new topics, or queries on existing fact sheets, please feel free to email me. I also welcome suggestions for the newsletter and any articles you'd like to share.

You can also now download our Practical Advice Talks (sessions on various areas of law presented by our volunteer lawyers) as podcasts: listen here.

You can also keep up to date with all LawWorks' news on Twitter or Facebook

See you next issue!

Best wishes,

Ruth

In this issue:

Free Legal Advice Clinic for Community Groups

Advocates for International Development (A4ID) Training

Legal aid cuts would 'disproportionately affect' voluntary sector

Free answers to brief legal questions: LawWorks Initial Electronic Advice

** Employment News**

CRB Checks: Home Office announces limits on criminal record checks

CRB Checks: Changes to checks and disclosures in working with children and the vulnerable

CRB Checks: Proposed legislation on freedoms, vetting and barring open to public comment

CRB Checks: Readable round-up of Vetting and Barring Scheme review

Keeping track of employment law developments

Working without the default retirement age

Volunteers not covered by anti-discrimination law, says Court of Appeal

Sector guide on how to use the Equality Act

Tribunal Report: On-call staff can be paid only when they're working

Parents and carers rights from April

Go online for employers PAYE tools and information

Employee right for training time delayed

Homelessness charity faces £250,000 bill after Tupe ruling

**Dealing with Government bodies**

Localism Bill: Charities should keep an eye on the Localism Bill

Localism Bill: Influencing, and understanding, the government's Localism legislation

Localism Bill: Practical details on community right to buy and challenge, data transparency

Localism Bill: Transferring heritage assets to community groups

Modernising European public procurement

** Charity Law**

Update on excepted charities registration

Points of law: The precedent of Australia

** Finances and Tax**

Revised guidance on HMRC Fit and Proper Persons test

Proposals on charity tax law are 'unfit for purpose'

Bid to change financial reporting rules 'may threaten charities' loan agreements'

** General News**

Delay on bribery law

Advertising standards apply to charity websites from March


Free Legal Advice Clinic for Community Groups

LawWorks operates a free legal surgery in partnership with Community Matters and one of our member law firms. If you are in need of initial legal advice from a lawyer and would like a face to face meeting this service is for you!

Call Community Matters now to book an appointment at our evening clinic with one of our volunteer lawyers. They can advise on the following areas of law:

• Employment law
• Incorporation (as a company)
• Contracts
• Property
• Intellectual Property (trade marks)

The clinics take place monthly on a Wednesday from 6-8pm at:

Community Matters
12/20 Baron Street
London
N1 9LL

To book an appointment simply call 020 7837 7887 and we will do our best to make suitable arrangements. You will need to provide details of your query, let us have copies of any documents which are relevant and then attend the clinic at the appointed time. Please note that correspondence in relation to this clinic should go through Community Matters not LawWorks. Further information can be found here.

A4ID Training

A4ID has legal training sessions coming up on 15-17 March for NGOs and would like to extend the opportunity to any of the LawWorks’ contacts and partners that might be interested. The training is particularly aimed at international development organisations but almost all the sessions would have significant relevance to any NGOs with a presence in the UK. Further information is available here. Please RSVP as soon as possible.

Legal aid cuts would 'disproportionately affect' voluntary sector

Third Sector, 14th February 2011

Charities fear government proposals would lead to an increase in social problems for the poor and vulnerable.

The proposed government cuts to legal aid would disproportionately affect the not-for-profit sector and could significantly increase demand for the sector's services, according to the welfare rights and support charity Lasa .

Terence Stokes, chief executive of Lasa, said £64m of the £114m cuts that the government is proposing to make to face-to-face legal advice was spent in the area of social welfare. These cuts would be felt most heavily by not-for-profit organisations, he said.

"The areas of legal aid where the cuts would be made are more often handled by not-for-profit organisations than private ones," he said.

Full article

Free answers to brief legal questions: LawWorks Initial Electronic Advice

Initial Electronic Advice is an automated, web-based system, which allows LawWorks to submit a short legal query and have this answered by one of our volunteer lawyers via email. Not for profit organisations and advice agencies can register online to submit questions for entry into the system.

The main legal areas we cover are: advertising, banking, building and construction, charity, clinical negligence, commercial, company, competition, construction, consumer, consumer credit, contract, corporate, costs, crime, debt, education, employment, energy, environment, EU, family, general litigation, health and safety, housing, immigration, insolvency, insurance, intellectual property, IT, landlord and tenant, mental health, mortgages, data protection, finance, insurance, pensions, personal injury, planning, property, public law, small claims, tax, telecoms, trust, welfare, wills and probate.

If you would like to register to submit questions, please see www.lawworksiea.org.uk, where you can also see more information on the service itself.

 

Home Office announces limits on criminal record checks

Third Sector, 11th February 2011

Only those working 'closely and regularly' with children and the vulnerable would need to be vetted

Volunteers and staff will need criminal records checks only if they work "closely and regularly" with children and vulnerable adults, under plans for a wide-ranging reform of the vetting and barring system announced by the government today.

Under the proposals, part of the new Protection of Freedoms Bill, about 4.5 million people who would have had to register with the Independent Safeguarding Authority under the vetting and barring scheme initiated by the Labour government, would not have to have criminal records checks.

Full article

Changes to checks and disclosures in working with children and the vulnerable

VolResource, 17th February 2011

The coverage of proposed changes to the Vetting and Barring Scheme may have created some confusion, with a government statement that registration for 9 million people would be abolished sometimes reported in isolation from there still being a (remodelled) disclosure scheme and barring lists. The official announcement was based on the publication of the findings and recommendations from the parallel reviews of the Criminal Records Regime and the Vetting and Barring Scheme. Some recommendations, such as portability of checks between jobs, were in the legislation previously due to be introduced (but suspended). Main points from and a summary of the recommendations can be found at Safeguarding Matters , the official Vetting and Barring Scheme Remodelling Review report is here.

Until the new provisions come in, the safeguarding requirements in force from October 2009 remain in place.

There has been a mixed reaction from the sector, as reported in Third Sector.

Proposed legislation on freedoms, vetting and barring open to public comment

VolResource, 17th February 2011

The legislative process which includes changes to the vetting and barring for workers with children and vulnerable adults is the first to have a 'pilot public reading stage' in parliament. A website allows anyone the opportunity to comment on each clause contained in the Protection of Freedoms Bill, and comments will be collated and fed through to parliament (at committee stage).

Comments by 7th March.

Link>>>

Readable round-up of Vetting and Barring Scheme review

VolResource, 24th February 2011

Bates Wells and Braithwaite solicitors have managed to produce a more readable version of the key recommendations from the government's review of the Vetting and Barring Scheme. This should give you are better feel for what the changes will be, starting sometime 2012.


Keeping track of employment law developments

VolResource, 20th January 2011

The latest factsheet from personnel professionals body CIPD is 'Employment law developments in 2010 and 2011', outlining the changes in regulations which came in last year and what is expected for this. The full details are largely for members only, but it is a useful checklist.

Working without the default retirement age

VolResource, 20th January 2011

With the confirmation of the removal of the Default Retirement Age (DRA), due to be effective from 30th September 2011, the last date to provide 6 months' notice required under the DRA's provisions is 30th March. Official employment relations body ACAS has information on this, answers to common questions and a guide for employers on 'Working without the default retirement age'.

Volunteers not covered by anti-discrimination law, says Court of Appeal

Sophie Hudson, Third Sector Online, 27 January 2011

Volunteers without contracts are not covered by anti-discrimination legislation for workers, the Court of Appeal has ruled.

The judgement was made yesterday in a case involving a female volunteer who claimed she had been discriminated against on the grounds of disability when she was asked to stop volunteering for the Mid Sussex Citizens Advice Bureau.

However, the court upheld previous employment tribunal rulings and found that she did not come under the scope of the legislation because she did not have a contract with the CAB and was unpaid.

Full article

Sector guide on how to use the Equality Act

VolResource, 17th February 2011

The Equality and Diversity Forum's 'How to use the Equality Act 2010: A guide for voluntary and community organisations' looks at how the new equality law can be used in advocacy, service delivery and campaigning work.

Tribunal Report: On-call staff can be paid only when they're working

Third Sector, 14 February 2011

Is a worker entitled to the minimum wage when they're asleep? This was the question for the Employment Appeal Tribunal when it considered South Manchester Abbeyfield Society v Hopkins and Woodworth. Its judgement will be of particular interest to charities providing round-the-clock services.

Link>>>

Parents and carers rights from April

VolResource, 10th February 2011

From 6th April 2011: Increases in statutory maternity, paternity and adoption pay. Link

Parents/carers of all children under 18 have the right to request flexible working to care for the child. Link

Changes in tax treatment of childcare vouchers and some employer-supported childcare. Link

Additional paternity leave for babies due or children matched for adoption on or after 3rd April. Link

Go online for employers PAYE tools and information

VolResource, 17th February 2011

The HM Revenue and Customs 'Employer CD-ROM' has been replaced by new 'Basic PAYE tools' which are available for download from the BusinessLink website.

Employee right for training time delayed

VolResource, 24th February 2011

The Time to Train regulations are not going to be extended to employees of small and medium-sized organisations this April. Employees of organisations of 250 or more staff have been covered by this right to request time for training to improve their skills since April 2010, but the government has delayed further implementation "to allow further, thorough discussion, scrutiny and evaluation". Link>>>

Homelessness charity faces £250,000 bill after Tupe ruling

Niki May Young, Civil Society, 2nd February 2011

Homelessness charity, the 700 Club, is facing a bill of up to £250,000 after an employment tribunal ruled that it must adhere to Tupe regulations after beating the Salvation Army in a tender bid to provide beds in Darlington.

Link>>>


Charities should keep an eye on the Localism Bill

Third Sector, 25 January 2011

Nicola Evans, senior associate at Bircham Dyson Bell, says the bill could be a blessing and a curse

When Eric Pickles, the communities secretary, launched the Localism Bill last month, he said the proposed legislation would lay the foundations for the government's big society agenda.

The provisions in the bill would devolve certain powers from central to local government and boost the powers of local community groups. On first reading, the bill features provisions that might be useful to charities, but could also be used against them.

Full article


Influencing, and understanding, the government's Localism legislation

VolResource, 3rd February 2011

The two organisations soon to be merged as Locality, bassac and DTA, have produced a joint response to the government's Decentralisation and the Localism Bill. The legislation, which recently started going through parliament, will create rights for communities to buy, to challenge (on provision of services) and to build. The response highlights various issues which should be taken on board for this to be effect.

Recent coverage by Civil Society Media states that the community powers are not restricted to geographical communities but will also apply to virtual communities or causes.

Also on our suggested reading list is 'A plain English guide to the Localism Bill' produced by the Communities Department.

Practical details on community right to buy and challenge, data transparency

VolResource, 10th February 2011

The government's Department for Communities and Local Government has three consultations of relevance:

-- The Community Right to Buy provisions in the Localism Bill to assist community organisations who wish to purchase assets of community value - views wanted on the detail of how the scheme should be delivered, and what type of support and guidance should be provided. To 3rd May.

-- Community Right to Challenge provisions in the Localism Bill enabling civil society organisations to express an interest in running a (public) service. Views on how the Right should work in practice, and on support and guidance, to 3rd May.

-- Draft 'Code of Recommended Practice for Local Government Data Transparency ' to set out the requirement to make data accessible to the public. It proposes this should cover salaries, voluntary funding, licensing and contracts, to 14th March.

For the first two, this CLG news item is a helpful overview.

Transferring heritage assets to community groups

VolResource, 20th January 2011

New guidance has been published to support local authorities and public sector bodies to work more closely with local groups to transfer historic buildings, monuments or landscape into community control. 'Pillars of the community: The transfer of local authority heritage assets' has been produced by English Heritage in partnership with the Development Trusts Association's Asset Transfer Unit, the National Trust and others.

Modernising European public procurement

VolResource, 3rd February 2011

The European Commission has started a 'Consultation on the modernisation of EU public procurement policy - Towards a more efficient European procurement market'. This potentially could make tenders more flexible and accessible to the voluntary sector. See umbrella body NAVCA's Commissioning and Procurement News or go direct to EU consultation - runs to 18th April.


Update on excepted charities registration

VolResource, 17th February 2011

The Charity Commission has published updated guidance on the regulation of exempt and excepted charities, and what such charities need to do. The exception from registration has been extended until 2012 where the annual income is less than £100,000, allowing for an expected review of registration thresholds in 2011. (Source: NCVO Public Policy Update)

Points of law: The precedent of Australia

Kaye Wiggins, Third Sector, 1 February 2011

A legal decision down under could have implications for campaigning law in the UK

Charity lawyers in the UK have been keeping a close eye on a judgement in the High Court of Australia that some believe could make it easier for UK charities to do campaigning work.

An Australian judge ruled in December that the charity AidWatch, which campaigns for the effective delivery of the government's international aid, could include "the generation of public debate" about the distribution of aid as one of its objects.

The case has set a precedent in Australia. Charities there can now include fostering debate about their charitable purpose as an object, even if their charitable purpose is directly related to an area of government policy.

Full article


Revised guidance on HMRC Fit and Proper Persons test

VolResource, 10th February 2011

HM Revenue and Customs has revised the 'Fit and Proper Persons' test guidance, including the basic guide for charity managers, in response to feedback. This applies at present only to charities (and Community Amateur Sports Clubs) claiming repayments of tax under Gift Aid, and should be read by anyone acting on behalf of the charity (trustee, employee, etc.), or appointing the same.

Proposals on charity tax law are 'unfit for purpose'

David Ainsworth, Third Sector Online, 11 February 2011

Proposed rules to govern the relationship between charities and major donors are not fit for purpose and should be abandoned, according to some lawyers and accountants who have responded to a consultation about them.

'Tainted donor' rules, designed to ensure charity tax breaks are not used for tax avoidance, were announced in December to replace existing legislation about substantial donors. HM Revenue & Customs plans to introduce the rules in the Finance Bill that will follow the Budget at the end of March. The new rules introduce a "purpose test" to indicate whether the donor intends to profit from the donation, and say that the donor will be liable for tax if the donation is for personal gain. The charity is liable under existing rules. James Kessler, a barrister specialising in tax, has told a consultation on the rules that closed last week that the new law was "unfit for purpose".

Full article

Bid to change financial reporting rules 'may threaten charities' loan agreements'

Sophie Hudson, Third Sector Online, 25 February 2011

Proposals by the Accounting Standards Board to change financial reporting guidelines could result in some charities inadvertently breaching loan agreements with their banks, according to the financial services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers.

The existing guidelines allow public benefit entities, which include charities, housing associations and universities, to revise the value of their tangible assets on their balance sheets, such as land and buildings, to reflect their present value. Some charities have pledged to keep the value of their assets up to date under loan agreements they have with their banks.

However, the Accounting Standards Board is consulting on proposals to introduce a new framework that would mean that some PBEs would no longer be allowed to revalue assets and could only list their value at the original price. This would mean those charities would need to renegotiate their contracts with lenders.

Full article


Delay on bribery law

VolResource, 3rd February 2011

The implementation of the Bribery Act, which was to come into force from April, has been further delayed while the government rewrites guidance on how to comply with the law. When the guidance is finally published there will be a three month notice period before implementation. The Institute of Fundraising has recently sought confirmation that charity/corporate fundraising events wouldn't be caught by the law.

Advertising standards apply to charity websites from March

VolResource, 24th February 2011

A lawyer at Bates Wells and Braithwaite who acts on behalf of the Advertising Standards Authority has clarified that their expanded online remit, as of 1st March, is "not being extended to website content for not-for-profits unless it is soliciting donations". He suggests that it is a good idea to keep the fundraising part of websites and online communications slightly separate from the more campaigning and lobbying side. Civil Society Media item and Committee of Advertising Practice general advice page.

   
 

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