News & Views
State of play
The Caritas state of play alert on key regulatory changes on the horizon
Keep an eye out for the Charity Tribunal decision regarding the Independent Schools Council v the Charity Commission scheduled for May 2011. The documentation can be viewed here and the decision when known will be published here and reported here in Caritas online. See our earlier story ‘Public benefit in court’ in November 2010.
Cookies and unwanted contact with the public
The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has stated that organisations will need the consent of users of their websites before downloading a cookie or similar information gathering technology.
Amendments to the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 will also require websites to provide users with ‘clear and comprehensive information’ about why their data will be stored.
The ICO has also been granted new powers to fine organisations, including charities, up to £500,000 for making unwanted contact with the public. This new power covers the sending of unwanted marketing emails and texts and making live or automated marketing phone calls.
A spokesman for the ICO said that all organisations had an obligation to ask people whether they wanted to be contacted in the future when first contact was made. Charities that ignored requests not to be contacted would be in breach of the regulations.
Further guidance will be issued by the ICO shortly.
Status: Effective 25 May 2011
The localism bill
The government’s plans for social housing reform are enshrined in the Localism bill, currently going through parliament. This includes changes on tenure; the management of waiting lists; and the homelessness duty. It also covers the introduction of a new 'affordable rent' tenancy and changes to the system of council housing finance. The bill covers measures to improve mobility, tackle overcrowding and under-occupation. The reforms are designed to ensure social landlords can make better use of social housing and target support where it is needed most.
Housing and planning minister Grant Schapps has also announced plans for the abolition of the Tenant Services Authority, and instead to give England's eight million social housing tenants strengthened powers to ensure that their landlords provide quality housing and are held to account when problems arise.
Status: The report stage and third reading was scheduled for 17 and 18 May 2011.
See also page 5 of this issue.
New guidance on taxation of expatriate workers
Individuals are treated by HMRC as non resident for tax purposes (in other words they are not liable for UK tax from the day after they leave the UK, provided they can show they:
- left the UK to go abroad permanently or the absence and full-time work abroad lasts at least the whole tax year; and
- their visits to the UK are less than 183 days in a tax year and average less than 91 days a tax year over a maximum of four consecutive years.
The same applies to their spouses, civil partners or partners.
HMRC has issued new guidance, which will be incorporate into the Residence, Domicile and the Remittance Basis, here it states that it “will generally accept that working in the UK for less than ten days in a year will not prevent an individual claiming they made a break with the UK.”
Employees (and it is advisable for charities to help them with this) will be required to document evidence that they are working full-time overseas.
Status: In force
VAT – charity buildings and the change of use provisions
HMRC has recently issued Brief 05/2011, which deals with changes in use of charity buildings that were constructed or purchased on a zero-rated basis for VAT after 1 March 2011. In order for the building to retain a zero rating, it must fulfil a 10-year period as a ‘qualifying purpose’ building without a change of use. ‘Qualifying purpose’ is use by the charity for non-business purpose or for a relevant residential purpose.
Click here for further detail and worked example
Charitable fundraising in England and Scotland is to be reviewed during the course of this year. In answer to a supplementary question on charitable collections during Cabinet Office questions on 19 January, Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office said: “It is estimated that up to £50m a year is lost to bogus collections, which deprive charities of vital income and damage public trust and confidence in them…We want to review the licensing legislation and put much greater emphasis on the co-ordination of enforcement action to combat these criminals.”
Status: Awaiting review
Workers rights reductions
The government has announced it is reforming as part of its review of employment red tape – including collective redundancy consultation periods, the Transfer Undertakings Protection of Employment Regulations (TUPE) and compensation for discrimination awarded by employment tribunals.
Consultations have closed on simplifying the employment tribunal system and extending the period before an unfair dismissal claim can be brought. The DWP has commissioned an independent review of sickness absence and a review of the compliance and enforcement regimes for employment law.
Ben Willmott, CIPD senior public policy adviser, questioned what scope the government would have to reform these laws given they are underpinned by European legislation.
Clarissa Dann was the editor of Caritas as well as an HR and management online service,he People Bulletin until July 2011.
She is now the editor of the specialist trade finance magazine, Trade and Forfaiting Review which can be viewed at www.tfreview.com but does write on charity finance and investment from time to time.
Clarissa has a background in legal and professional publishing, as well as business journalism and holds an MBA from
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