From The Charity Commission: How We Identify Risks

Charity Commission LogoTo achieve our purpose and fulfil our statutory functions, we are risk-led in our regulation, which means:

  • being proactive in identifying risks and intervening, where possible, to prevent harm before it occurs
  • addressing harm effectively where it occurs
  • focusing our resources effectively on the highest risks

How we identify risks

We identify risks from a wide range of sources including, but not limited to:

  • information charities include in their annual return and accounts
  • serious incident reports from trustees
  • reporting by auditors and independent examiners
  • reports of serious wrongdoing in charities from employees and volunteers, including whistleblowing
  • complaints from the public or public sources
  • our engagement with charities
  • our work with other bodies, departments and agencies
  • concerns raised in the media and by members of parliament

We place an emphasis on being proactive and identifying risks as soon as possible. To achieve this we:

  • identify trends to get a better understanding of the evolving threats and risks to the ability of charity to thrive and inspire trust and confidence
  • analyse the data, information and knowledge that we gather from the sources mentioned above
  • use our awareness of changes to the environment in which charities are operating and the main challenges facing the charity sector

How we respond to risks

Our approach is underlined by our general functions as set out above, which include:

  • determining whether institutions are charities
  • encouraging and facilitating the better administration of charities
  • identifying and investigating apparent misconduct or mismanagement in the administration of charities and taking corresponding remedial or protective action

We will prioritise our casework resources towards addressing the highest risks, those which have the potential to cause the highest level of harm to public trust and confidence, or which may affect trustees’ ability to comply with their duties.

The level and nature of some risks will be such that it would not be proportionate to use our resources to undertake direct regulatory action or engagement with the charity. However, this does not mean that we do not want to be notified of these risks. Whilst we may not take regulatory action, we may still contact a charity’s trustees to alert them to the concerns raised with us. We may keep such information in our records and reassess our response if further information comes to light. We will also use the information to inform our wider understanding of risks. This may result in actions that deal with risk in a thematic way, for example publishing a report of our overall findings or issuing a regulatory alert to all or a relevant category of charities.

There will be some limited cases where the level and nature of risk identified means that another regulator or agency is better placed to respond, for example serious criminal matters. In such cases, we will work with the other regulator or agency to ensure the appropriate response.

An increased level of Commission involvement with a charity or on an issue does not necessarily mean that something has already gone wrong. It may simply mean that a risk requires a greater regulatory involvement or scrutiny.

Since the nature and level of a risk may change during the course of a particular case, we may need to periodically review our response.

You can read more here

Changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme from July 2021

COVID 19 Latest - Doyle ClaytonFrom 1 July 2021, the level of grant will be reduced and you will be asked to contribute towards the cost of your furloughed employees’ wages. To be eligible for the grant you must continue to pay your furloughed employees 80% of their wages, up to a cap of £2,500 per month for the time they spend on furlough.

The table below shows the level of government contribution available in the coming months, the required employer contribution and the amount that the employee receives per month where the employee is furloughed 100% of the time.

Wage caps are proportional to the hours not worked.

  May June July August September
Government contribution: wages for hours not worked 80% up to £2,500 80% up to £2,500 70% up to £2,187.50 60% up to £1,875 60% up to £1,875
Employer contribution: employer National Insurance contributions and pension contributions Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Employer contribution wages for hours not worked No No 10% up to £312.50 20% up to £625 20% up to £625
For hours not worked employee receives 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month 80% up to £2,500 per month

You can continue to choose to top up your employees’ wages above the 80% total and £2,500 cap for the hours not worked at your own expense

Inducting New Staff

New Employee ChecklistACAS offers some good advice for employers on how to settle in a new employee once they have accepted a job offer.

They suggest that you use a checklist to ensure that both the new employee and their line manager know what has or has not been covered at any given time.

They both need a copy, which should be kept up to date, so they can follow what is happening.  It can also act as a reminder of anything that needs particular attention.

While a checklist is helpful, it should not turn the induction into a tick-box exercise.  It should be the responsibility of both management and the new starter to ensure all items are properly covered.

The checklist is often drawn up by the employer’s HR department in consultation with other staff involved, such as a safety officer, line manager/supervisor, employee representative and training officer.

A sample checklist, which is free to download and use, can be found here

The ACAS guide to induction can be found here

Managing Appeal Funds – responding to the Covid-19 pandemic

crisis responseThe current global pandemic is having lasing effects in all areas of life

Many charities want to know whether and how they can respond to an emergency or humanitarian crisis such as this current one.  A charity must apply its funds for the aims it was set up to achieve, but this need not mean that they cannot help when an emergency happens. 

Trustees have a legal responsibility to ensure that funds raised are used for the purposes for which they were raised. This means your charity should consider putting in place a range of checks and controls to safeguard its funds and prevent fraud.

In the interests of openness and transparency, your charity should also be able to demonstrate to donors and the general public that funds raised have been, and will be, used for the purposes they were given.

Disaster Action’s Guidance on Management and Distribution of Disaster Trust Funds is a useful source of information.

Finding New Trustees

How to find new trustees

CC903546-E4A0-491B-9E28-17765EEBB663Who to recruit

Recruit trustees who have the experience and skills your charity needs. They need to be interested in the charity’s work and be willing to give their time to help run it.

Being a trustee takes commitment. Don’t appoint trustees because of their status or position in the community alone – these people may be better as patrons.

How many trustees to recruit

Your charity’s governing document may say how many trustees you should have and how they are appointed.

Legal requirement: you must follow your governing document’s rules when recruiting trustees.

Aim for a minimum of three unconnected trustees with a good range of skills. You need enough trustees to govern the charity effectively. It’s also important to keep your board small enough to arrange meetings easily and allow effective discussion and decision making.

How to encourage people to apply

To attract a broader range of trustees – including young people – you could:

  • try recruitment methods other than word of mouth, such as social media, advertising or trustee recruitment websites
  • encourage people who already support your charity, for example as volunteers, to become trustees
  • approach local universities or colleges and their student unions

Remove any barriers that could stop someone from being a trustee, for example by:

  • keeping board papers (particularly financial information) short and easy to understand
  • translating documents or providing accessible formats
  • making it clear that trustees can claim reasonable expenses, including help with travel and childcare
  • holding meetings at venues that are accessible for people with disabilities
  • having meetings at times that don’t exclude people who are working or have caring responsibilities
  • giving everyone a chance to contribute to discussions at meetings

If you ask someone who benefits from the charity to become a trustee, you must manage potential conflicts of interest if they will continue to receive those benefits.

What To Do When An Employee Resigns

resignation letterAn employer can’t refuse to accept someone’s resignation and they must follow certain procedures.

When a member of staff resigns you must:

  • get them to confirm their resignation in writing.  Verbal resignations given in the heat of the moment could lead to claims of unfair dismissal – always ask for resignations to be given in writing.
  • tell them what their notice period is
  • agree when their last day at work will be
  • confirm whether they should work all or part of their notice period

Employee decisions to retire are a form of resignation.

Verbal resignations given in the heat of the moment could lead to claims of unfair dismissal – always ask for resignations to be given in writing.

To make their departure as smooth as possible, you might also:

  • Agree with the employee the terms of an announcement to other staff concerning their departure, if appropriate.
  • Organise a handover period. This allows for a smooth handover to existing staff or the employee’s replacement of key tasks and responsibilities.
  • Arrange an exit interview.  You can then use their response to determine whether there are any underlying issues to be addressed.
  • Retrieve security passes and all other property of your business, eg tools, uniforms, computers and company cars.
  • Organise their final payment including all money owing, eg pay in lieu of working a notice period, money for unused holidays, overtime and bonus payments.
  • Part on good terms. The person leaving may become a client or may be able to refer business to you. Equally, a disgruntled ex-employee can damage the reputation of your business if they leave on poor terms, eg having identified you as their previous employer then writing about their experiences as your employee on a social networking website or blog. This may be the case where the employee has details on their profile which identifies them as having worked for you.
  • Organise a farewell gift or party, if appropriate. Acknowledgement of good service appreciated is valuable for remaining staff morale and the promoting of a positive organisational culture.
  • Make a point of saying goodbye on the actual day the person leaves and thank them again for all their hard work.
  • Be careful about refernces. You should consider carefully the legal implications of providing a reference:
    • make sure that what you say is true, accurate and a fair representation of the person
    • an ex-employee could bring an action against you for libel, discrimination or defamation of character through a court or tribunal, if they consider the reference to be inaccurate

Helpline

Contact the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) if you have any questions about handling staff resignations.

Workers’ Rights

Protect Workers RightsAn employer doesn’t usually have to give a work reference – but if they do, it must be fair and accurate. Workers may be able to challenge a reference they think is unfair or misleading.

Employers must give a reference if:

  • there was a written agreement to do so
  • they’re in a regulated industry, like financial services

If they give a reference it:

  • must be fair and accurate – and can include details about workers’ performance and if they were sacked
  • can be brief – such as job title, salary and when the worker was employed

Once the worker starts with a new employer they can ask to see a copy of a reference. They have no right to ask their previous employer.

Bad references

If the worker thinks they’ve been given an unfair or misleading reference, they may be able to claim damages in a court. The previous employer must be able to back up the reference, such as by supplying examples of warning letters.

Workers must be able to show that:

  • it’s misleading or inaccurate
  • they ‘suffered a loss’ – for example, a job offer was withdrawn

Workers can get legal advice, including from Citizens Advice. They may also get legal aid.

Discrimination and unfair dismissal

Workers might also claim damages from a court if:

  • the employment contract says they must be given a reference but the employer refuses to
  • the worker is sacked because they’ve been asked to give a reference while the worker’s still working for them

Workers can get legal advice, including from Citizens Advice. They may also get legal aid.

Contact Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) for advice.

Acas helpline
Telephone: 0300 123 11 00
Textphone: 18001 0300 123 11 00
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Repaying Your Student Loan

Student LoansWhen you start repaying

You’ll only repay your student loan when your income is over the threshold amount for your repayment plan. The threshold amounts change on 6 April every year.

The earliest you’ll start repaying is either:

  • the April after you leave your course
  • the April 4 years after the course started, if you’re studying part-time

Your repayments automatically stop if either:

  • you stop working
  • your income goes below the threshold

If you have a Plan 1 student loan

You’ll only repay when your income is over £382 a week, £1,657 a month or £19,895 a year (before tax and other deductions).

If you have a Plan 2 student loan

You’ll only repay when your income is over £524 a week, £2,274 a month or £27,295 a year (before tax and other deductions).

If you have a Plan 4 student loan

You’ll only repay when your income is over £480 a week, £2,083 a month or £25,000 a year (before tax and other deductions).

If you’re on a Postgraduate Loan repayment plan

If you took out a Master’s Loan or a Doctoral Loan, you’ll only repay when your income is over £403 a week, £1,750 a month or £21,000 a year (before tax and other deductions).

Early repayments

There’s no penalty for paying some or all of your loan off early.

How to write your governing document

1E5E7A25-514D-48D9-9803-2C0D88FF57C1Governing document templates

Use one of the Charity Commission’s model governing documents, either:

  • as a template (recommended) – this makes it easier to register your charity
  • as a reference – to see what a governing document looks like and what it must contain

Start by choosing the right governing document for your charity type:

  • constitution (for unincorporated associations)
  • charitable incorporated organisation (CIO) foundation or association constitution (for CIOs) – see below
  • memorandum and articles of association (for charitable companies)
  • trust deed or will (for trusts)

If you use a model governing document, complete the template in full. Select all of the options that apply to your charity, and sign and date it where required.

If you’re setting up a charity associated with a national organisation, it may have its own governing document template you should use. You must use that template in full without changing or adding to it. Alternatively, ask your national organisation if you can use one of the commission’s model governing documents instead.

What governing documents need to contain

Only write your own governing document if there isn’t a template that’s right for your charity. If you apply to register your charity, the commission will expect your governing document to contain certain sections (‘provisions’ or ‘clauses’):

Section What it needs to contain
Name Your charity’s name and (in the case of a trust or an unincorporated association) power to amend the name
Objects What your charity is set up to achieve (its purposes must all be charitable for the public benefit)
Powers What the trustees can do to carry out its purposes (for example, raising funds, buying and selling property, borrowing money, working with other organisations)
Charity trustees How many trustees there are, who can be a trustee, how they are appointed, how long they can hold office and if they can be reappointed
Charity meetings and voting How many meetings are needed, how they are arranged, how a chair is appointed, how votes are made and counted (including minimum numbers for this)
Membership (if applicable) Who can be a member, age restrictions, ending someone’s membership, how membership meetings are called
Financial How the charity meets its legal accounting requirements, who controls the bank account, who can sign cheques and if two signatures are needed, other internal financial controls
Trustee benefit How trustees must not benefit from the charity (excluding reasonable expenses) without commission approval or unless it is authorised in the governing document
Amendments (if applicable) How the trustees can change the charity’s governing document, when commission approval is needed, how amendments are recorded
Dissolution When the charity can be closed, what happens to any remaining assets (charitable assets can only be used for charitable purposes)