Policy, Government and the Voluntary Sector

June Policy Update

Here's what's been going on in the world of policy over the past month.

We’re halfway through 2023! Here’s your monthly update on policy news and events from around the sector, including a new report highlighting the need for small grants and some updates from the Charity Commission on the Charity Act 2022.  

New DSC report reaffirms the importance of small grants  

Conducted by the Directory of Social Change (DSC) and funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust,Small Grants, Big Changesoffers valuable insights into small grants (£20,000 or less) and small grants programmes in the UK.  

Small grants play a vital role in enabling and sustaining critical support for charities and their beneficiaries, and this report highlights their ability to target hard-to-reach communities, foster partnerships and attract future funding. 

A few of the key findings include: 

  • Most grants made in the UK are small grants 
  • Application processes for small grants need to be easy to use and proportionate to the amount awarded 
  • Publicly available research and evaluations on small grants are sparse 

Find out more about this new resource and download the report for free here. 

New report shows that the sector is healing 

The latest VCSE Sector Barometer results have been revealed this month in a new report by Pro Bono Economics and Nottingham Trent University called Shifting out of reverse 

The report reveals that the sector is showing signs of optimism, with a growing proportion of charities expecting to meet the increasing demand for their services. Additionally, charities are experiencing an improvement in their financial circumstances and are no longer struggling as much with recruitment challenges.  

However, charities are facing concerns regarding volunteer recruitment and retention, with a decline in volunteering rates and difficulties in recruiting and retaining volunteers. The current challenges in volunteering are having a significant impact on charities, hindering their ability to meet their primary objectives and targets.  

Take a look at the full report here. 

Changes to the Charities Act 2022 have come into force 

On Wednesday 14 June, changes to the Charities Act 2022 came into effect regarding selling, leasing and disposing of charity land, using permanent endowment, and charity names.  

Here’s a summary of the changes: 

Selling, leasing or disposing of charity land 

  • Trustees, or employees, can provide advice regarding the disposal;  
  • It’s up to the trustees’ discretion on how to advertise the charity’s land; 
  • Charities no longer need to get the Commission’s permission before granting a residential lease to a charity employee. 

Using permanent endowment 

  • Under certain circumstances, charities can now spend from a ‘smaller value’ permanent endowment fund of £25,000 or less without Commission authority; 
  • Certain charities can now borrow up to 25% of the value of their permanent endowment fund without Commission authority. 

Charity names 

  • The Charity Commission can now stop a charity from using a particular name if it’s too similar to another charity’s name or if it’s offensive or misleading; 
  • The Charity Commission can now delay the registration of a charity with an unsuitable name. 

Learn more about these changes to the Charities Act 2022 here. 

The Procurement Bill passed through the Commons 

Back in May, the government introduced the Procurement Bill to enhance public procurement regulation. This process involves the acquisition of goods, services, or works by central and local government authorities. 

Procurement is one part of a wider commissioning process that many charities engage with to deliver support to people across a range of areas from criminal justice to social care. During 2018/19, charities contributed £15.8 billion in public services, accounting for a significant portion of the voluntary sector’s income. This bill could potentially impact charities currently or looking to get involved in delivering public services. 

The Procurement Bill has now passed its stages in the Commons and will proceed to the House of Lords for confirmation of the changes approved by Members of Parliament. It is vital that, if this bill becomes law, it properly addresses the needs of charities and ensures that decision-making incorporates social value as a fundamental element. 

Click here to learn more about the Procurement Bill.