Latest policy updates
The latest charity finance policy updates from CFG:
CFG also sends out regular policy updates to members via email. Find out more about becoming a member of CFG.
12/12/2016: Consultation response - Research exercise on charities SORP (FRS 102)
CFG has submitted its proposed revisions and recommendations on charities SORP. Our response draws on the evidence gathered through our consultation process with our members and the wider sector.
Our recommendations are summarised below, or you can view the full consultation response.
- We believe that the SORP is too long and that steps which is hampering the ability of readers to understand the report and accounts and is also increasing the burden on already stretched charitable resources.
- We believe that retention of a SORP is necessary and benefits both the public and the charity sector.
- We recommend that governance costs should not be shown as a separate component of support costs within the notes because it does not adequately reflect governance within charities and adds unnecessary complications.
- We would also support significant simplification of reporting on financial instruments and hedge accounting as these make the accounts too complex for the general public to read.
- We would recommend the reversal of investment gains and losses as sitting “above the line” on the SoFA and should revert to sitting “below the line”.
- We do not support the recommendation of a Key Facts Summary and our consultation activities returned very little support for its introduction.
- We advise against further definition and guidance on reserves in the SORP.
- We recommend that the separate reporting of support costs should be abolished.
- We agree that the SORP would benefit from clarification of the approach that charities can report on how they have achieved public benefit.
- We do not support the view that charities could be made to explain how their beneficiaries are involved in service design.
- We do not support the proposals under the theme of enhanced analysis of expenditure. We are concerned that these proposals are not being made with charities and the public interest in mind, but due to recent intense media interest in the charity sector.
- We do not believe that administration or fundraising costs should be more detailed, and administration costs (similar to support costs) should be abolished. Charities should be encouraged to provide explanation for their approach and performance in their narrative report, rather than through financial disclosures.
- We recommend that any disclosing of jurisdiction of charity funds should remain voluntary and not mandated in the SORP.
- We found little support for the NCVO proposals that larger charities should disclose the post and pay of senior employees beyond what the SORP already requires.
- We do not support the mandatory disclosing of who funds charities.
For more information on this response please contact Heather McLoughlin, Policy and Public Affairs Office, on 0207 871 5480 or email@example.com
21/10/2016: CFG unveils Charity Tax Plan
CFG has unveiled its plan for radical tax reform to reduce the amount of charitable resources lost through the tax system ahead of the Autumn Statement. The plan outlines a number of reasons why the government should support the charity sector, and then outlines five measures that can be introduced to improve the system for charities including:
- Reducing irrecoverable VAT
- Increasing business rates to 100%
- Further simplifying the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme
- Giving higher rate taxpaying donors the option to give all their tax relief to charities
- An exemption for charities from Insurance Premium Tax
If you would like more information about the plan, please contact Andrew O’Brien, Head of Policy and Engagement (andrew.o’firstname.lastname@example.org)
06/10/2016: CFG Consultation Response - Gift Aid and Intermediaries
CFG has responded to proposed developments surrounding the Gift Aid process.
Our recommendations are summarised below, or you can view the full consultation response.
- We welcome this technical consultation, which has the potential to further improve the Gift Aid process for donors
- However, we are concerned that this technical consultation will not support text giving, which is the technology which has one of the lowest Gift Aid claim rates. We would welcome further discussions on this point.
- We strongly oppose the introduction of annual statements to be emailed or written for donors that make use of this new process.
- We believe that this new statement will confuse donors, runs counter the existing direction of travel to reduce unsolicited communications to donors, separates Gift Aid from the donation and could lead to more negative views around Gift Aid.
- All of these risks are being ventured with little or no evidence of the improvements that would result from the introduction of the Annual Statement. Without an evidence base, this regulation should be pursued.
- We strongly urge the government to reconsider the Annual Statement regulations, and amend them to give every donor the right to access an account where all their donations, Gift Aid claims and information about claiming higher rate relief can be held.
- As intermediaries have become more integral to the Gift Aid system, we believe that it would be useful to investigate whether HMRC should take a greater role in regulating this space, increasing transparency of costs and ensuring that the market place works for charities and donors. We would welcome an opportunity to explore this with HMRC and HM Treasury in the future.
If you would like any further information on this response, please contact Andrew O’Brien, Head of Policy and Engagement (andrew.o’email@example.com)
20/09/2016: CFG Consultation Response for Matters of Material Significance
CFG has responded to the Charity Commission, OSCR and CCNI consultation on reporting matters of material significance.
Our recommendations are summarised below, or you can view the full consultation response.
• We welcome this review into matters of material significance, and believe that it should have the principles of cost, pragmatism and maintaining a strong relationship between auditors and independent examiners at their heart.
• While we understand the Charity Commissions desire to maintain public trust and confidence, we are concerned that most of the recommendations do not take into account the role and expertise of independent examiners, and believe that matters of material significance need to be set with their role in mind.
• We have concerns that auditors are increasingly being asked to police the charity sector. Greater support and training for charities from the Charity Commission would help to increase standards of compliance.
• There is a significant risk that the increasing reporting requirements for auditors would be detrimental to building a more financially resilient sector. Auditors would take a step back from working with their clients for fear of the regulatory consequences greatly reducing the avenues through which charities, especially small charities, can receive support.
• The potential additional reporting requirements could place a disproportionate burden on independent examiners and the charities that use them. These recommendations do not account for the ability and responsibility of an independent examiner, and are instead solely focused on auditor’s capacity.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
20/08/2016: CFG responds to LGPS consultation
CFG has responded to the Department for Communities and Local Government’s (DCLG) consultation on draft changes to the Local Government Pension Scheme Regulations 2013 (SI/2356), and the Local Government Pension Scheme (Transitional Provisions, Savings and Amendment) Regulations 2014 (SI/525).
In our response, CFG urges DCLG to use this opportunity to address two key challenges facing charities – and other admitted bodies – in the LGPS:
• Administering authorities transferring liability for past accrual of benefits – and any related deficit – to the most recent employer.
• Calculating cessation debt on a gilt basis and the immediate triggering of this debt when a charity ceases to accrue liabilities.
CFG makes four recommendations:
1) Liabilities should be segregated so that they remain with the employer who accrued them.
2) Local contracting authorities should take steps to improve the understanding of the risks being passed onto suppliers.
3) Cessation debts should take into account the discount rate applied in the LGPS on-going funding valuation plus a discontinuance margin.
4) Organisations should be able to cease to accrue liabilities without automatically triggering a cessation debt.
Download the full consultation response.
05/08/2016: CFG leads the call to delay Apprenticeship Levy
CFG has led a call for a delay in the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in order to protect the quality of apprenticeships and skills investment.
In a letter co-signed by organisations representing charity, business and public sector, CFG highlights that employers need certainty whilst the economy responds to Brexit and that introducing the levy now will impact already stretched budgets, especially in the charity sector. They also warn that without the levy guidance, which was due out in June, employers are unable to plan for its introduction, increasing levels of uncertainty further.
There is strong evidence that the levy in its current form could undermine apprenticeship quality by encouraging some employers to invest in intermediate level apprenticeships at the expense of advanced and higher level programmes.
The group also argue that the Digital Apprenticeship System (DAS) does not allow for the range of requirements that the signatories have called for. Specifically the mechanism to transfer vouchers to other organisations will not be available within the first year.
Caron Bradshaw, Chief Executive of Charity Finance Group who co-ordinated the letter said:
“This is the crunch point for the apprenticeship levy. If the government decides to push ahead with the existing timetable we will see vital charitable funds being redirected away from the causes which they were intended to support. The sector has only recently come out of recession and will not be immune to the economic challenges that Brexit threatens. History has shown that in times of economic uncertainty demand on charities’ front line services increases, we cannot therefore risk losing vital funds through a policy that, in its current form, will not support our members to achieve their charitable objectives.
“The government would be taking the responsible path in delaying the levy and taking the time to engage with charities and other employers, who have already proposed solutions to some of the challenges presented by the levy, on how it could work to genuinely improve skills across the British economy and help support young people into meaningful employment.”
You can download the letter here.
The letter has been signed by:
Charity Finance Group
British Plastics Federation
British Printing Industries Federation
Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE)
Chemical Industries Association
Food and Drink Federation
Institute of Directors
Manufacturing Technologies Association
For any more information please contact Anjelica Finnegan: 020 7871 5480; email@example.com
29/07/2016: Launch of the Countering Fraud Guide
Watch Jim Gee’s presentation as he offers expert insights into Fraud in the charity sector during the launch of the new guide Countering Fraud – A guide for the UK charity sector. More information around the guide and a link to download it can be accessed here.
22/07/2016: CFG Writes to Financial Secretary
CFG has written to the Financial Secretary of the Treasury, Jane Ellison MP, to welcome her to her post and lay out some of the key issues impacting on charities including irrecoverable VAT.
Download the letter here.
13/05/2016: Our response to the Gift Aid Donor Benefits consultation
Charity Finance Group, Institute of Fundraising, National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Small Charities Coalition have submitted a joint response to the government's consultation into simplifying Gift Aid Donor Benefit rules.
Our recommendations are summarised below, or you can download the full response (.PDF).
- We recommend reducing the number of thresholds from three thresholds to two thresholds to simplify the donor benefits system.
- We endorse the introduction of a disregard for low value benefits to help small charities.
- We agree with the proposal to put the ‘split payments rule’ into legislation.
- We recommend that charities should have a requirement to inform donors about the amount of Gift Aid claimed on their donations only upon request.
- We support the proposal to legislate for the inclusion of the averaging method in legislation.
- We support the proposal to legislate for the inclusion of the rule that literature being considered of inconsequential value for the purposes of the donor benefits system in legislation.
- However, we also believe that the government should consider widening the scope of this benefit to include other forms of benefits, such as apps, toolkits and other materials that may be used to help the charity advance its charitable objects.
- We recommend that the government changes the valuation process from the value to the donor to cost to the charity.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
19/04/2016: ACF, CFG and NCVO raise concerns on draft guidance for funding non-charities
Draft guidance from the Charity Commission, entitled 'Grant funding an organisation that isn't a charity' states that an organisation must not fund the 'core costs (or overheads) of a non-charity'. It would also prevent organisations giving unrestricted grants, which could particularly impact on development charities that work overseas with non-charities.
In a consultation response, CFG has argued alongside the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF) and National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) that the guidance risks undermining the ability of charities to build capacity in organisations that have a vital role to play in civil society such as social enterprises, start-ups and international NGOs.
The joint submission argues that it is both important and appropriate that funders are able to build the core capacity of such organisations so that they are resilient, able to respond flexibly to changing needs, and have the ability bid for other funding streams to support their activity.
It warns that without trustees having discretion to offer flexible funding for 'core' essentials such as accommodation, ICT, salaries for leadership and the costs of growth and adaptation, many socially beneficial organisations would cease to exist, to the great detriment of their beneficiaries and the frustration of the charitable objectives of the UK based funder.
Download the join response to the draft guidance.
31/03/2016: Update on the Apprenticeship Levy
CFG's policy team have been working to ensure the forthcoming Apprenticeship Levy works for charities, and that charities are aware of the impact of it. A brief update on what we've been working on is below.
1) Meeting with the Skills Minister
On March 10, CFG arranged a roundtable meeting with the Skills Minister, Nick Boles MP, and six of our charity members to discuss the Apprenticeship Levy, the challenges it poses to the charity sector and how these challenges can be addressed.
You can read the summary of what was discussed at that meeting.
2) CFG submits written evidence to the Sub-Committee on Skills, Education and the Economy
Read CFG's written evidence to the Sub-Committee on Skills Education and the Economy on the impact of the Apprenticesip Levy on the charity sector.
This submission sets out a number of challenges that limit the charity sector's ability to engage effectively with the Apprenticeship Levy, thereby undermining the levy's capacity to drive up skills across all sections of the economy, and how CFG believes these can be mitigated.
CFG's recommendations include:
- Charity representation on the new board of the Institute of Apprenticeships
- Existing and future public service contracts to include the cost of the levy in the contract agreement
- Government to provide seed funding to develop skills infrastructure in the charity sector
- Ring fencing unspent levy funds so that the charitable funds are not re-directed to subsidise apprenticeships in private businesses.
- Allow charities to use the Levy to cover direct costs of employing apprenticeships as well as training costs.
3) Charity roundtable with the Department for Business Innovation and Skills
On January 14 2016, CFG hosted a roundtable with BIS officials and 35 of our charity members to discuss the Apprenticeship Levy.
Download the notes from the meeting.
16/03/2016: CFG's 2016 Budget Briefing published
The Chancellor announced Budget 2016 today.
We have put together a briefing for charities on the headline announcements and important economic information with comments from CFG's expert corporate subscribers.
- Mandatory charitable business rates relief protected.
- No additional support for charities to deal with National Living Wages and the Apprenticeship Levy.
- More targeted giveaways for military and women’s charities.
Download the briefing(.pdf)
Throughout the day, our policy team were live-blogging the announcements as they happened, and we have also published an early analysis of the key issues for charities.
You can also check #volsecbudget on Twitter for updates as they happened from a range of leading charity professionals.
If you have any questions about the Budget and its potential impact, please email the policy team on email@example.com.
05/02/2016: Leading voluntary sector bodies launch 'Grants for Good' campaign
The Grants for Good campaign has launched today, calling for a halt to the steady decline in grant funding to charities and community groups.
Grants for Good is run by Directory for Social Change, Charity Finance Group, Children England, NAVCA and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales, who are using their networks to gather examples of effective grant-making and build a case for commissioners to choose grants instead of contracts where a responsive local service is needed.
A launch event is taking place on Friday 4 March in London - to find out more about the event and the campaign, see today's press release.
29/10/2015: CFG submits Spending Review policy proposals
CFG have submitted five key policy recommendations to the Chancellor George Osborne ahead of the upcoming Spending Review. The recommendations address some of the most pressing issues for voluntary organisations at present - particularly small and medium-sized organisations.
The letter was signed by CFG, Big Society Capital, Institute of Fundraising, Locality, NAVCA, Small Charities Coalition and Voice4Change England.
The five proposals are:
- Existing public service contracts should be adjusted for the introduction of the National Living Wage, and related workplace pension costs.
- The creation of a Community Capital Fund to enable communities to take ownership of their assets and ensure they become self-sustaining.
- The creation of a Centre for Social Value which would sit within the Commissioning Academy.
- Creation of Voluntary Sector Master Classes to compliment the recently introduced Local Sustainability Fund by providing a range of technical training sessions that will equip voluntary organisations with the ability to improve their capacity and financial sustainability in the long-term.
- The establishment of Partnership Hubs to promote and create innovative solutions in the delivery of public services.
The letter also includes details about the potential cost and scale of the proposals.
Download the letter here, or for more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
09/08/2015: New Pensions Auto-Enrolment guide for small charities published
CFG are delighted to launch a new publication for small organisations, aimed at delivering practical guidance on how they can prepare for pensions auto-enrolment regulations.
Produced in partnership with Premier Pensions, the guide contains key lessons from organisations who have already been through the process of auto-enrolment. It combines this with case studies from small charities who outline some of the steps they have taken in order to prepare.
This practical guide will leave you with a clear outlook on your responsibilities and the confidence to implement the new regulations well.
Download the PDF, free of charge, from our publications section.
07/08/2015: CFG Chief appears on 5Live, BBCNews 24 discussing importance of charity financial sustainability
CFG's Chief Executive, Caron Bradshaw, appeared on radio BBC 5Live this morning, discussing the importance of financial skills in the sector, and speaking about charity mergers and closures.
In response to questions about whether there were "too many charities", Caron said:
"I think we should be cautious about playing a numbers game regarding the number of charities - what we should be doing is encouraging charities that are in a good position to do so to merge.
There are circumstances where mergers happen in a crisis, rather than at the right time when it’s in the best interests of the beneficiaries. We need to change the narrative around mergers. Mergers needs to be a positive part of the life cycle of an organisation."
Caron also commented on the importance of robust financial systems within charities, and how important it is for the development of these skills to be recognised by government:
"There has been a serious capacity crunch over the past few years, over successive governments.
The capacity building that has been undertaken is rarely focused on financial skills. It’s been around digital and media or fundraising. I’m not saying those aren’t very worthy things – but if you don’t have financial skills, then you aren’t able to get the best out of your resources for your beneficiaries."
Caron also appeared on BBC News 24 (digital television channel 130) at 5pm today.
08/07/2015: CFG produces briefing on budget
CFG have produced a short briefing on the key announcements in the 2015 Summer Budget, including those of particular interest to the charity sector.
We have also asked some of our corporate subscribers - leading financial experts - to put forward their initial responses to measures announced in the budget which are in the relevant sections.
Download the briefing here.
06/07/2015: CFG writes to Chancellor ahead of Budget
CFG has written to the Challencor ahead of the Budget announcement on 8 July. The letter, signed by a number of charities, highlights the key financial issues facing charities at present.
- Calling for a review of the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme as soon as possible
- The need to review corporate Gift Aid
- Urging the government to restate its commitment to Business Rate Relief, and calling on the government to increase mandatory relief for charities to 100%.
- Encouraging government to announce a review into the implementation of VAT exemption and to work with charities to see how it could be improved.
Signatories to the letter are ACEVO, Association of Charitable Foundations, CFG, Directory of Social Change, Institute of Fundraising, Locality, NAVCA, Small Charities Coalition, and Voice4Change England.
Download the letter here (pdf).
12/06/2015: CFG responds to HM Treasury Business Rates Discussion Paper
Charity Finance Group, alongside NCVO, Institute of Fundraising and Charity Tax Group has called on the government to improve the operation of business rates and increase the mandatory rate relief to 100%. CFG has outlined how this would make the £1.6bn relief simpler, more efficient and fairer for charities.
Andrew O’Brien, Head of Policy, Charity Finance Group said:
“Business rate relief is the sector’s most financially valuable tax relief and critical to the operation of many projects and services we operate. The government should use this review as an opportunity to reform this system so that all charities regardless of their location or activity get maximum benefit from this relief. Although charities have not been the focus of this review, we do have a big social and economic impact. The government should not pass up this chance to improve the business rate relief regime for charities.”
You can read our response here.
22/05/2015: Section 75 - CFG's call for evidence response
On 22nd May, the Department for Work and Pension's section 75 reform call for evidence ended. You can download the response CFG submitted here.
Section 75 rules have trapped many charities into unsustainable pension arrangements where they are unable to stop further accrual of debt because they cannot pay immediate exit debts. This creates instability for the scheme and threatens the long term sustainability of employers.
Speaking with members, we know that this is an important issue and we have responded to the call for evidence. In addition we drafted a template email for charities to send to DWP in support of our response and to provide the chance for charities to give their views.
Thank you to the many charities that took the time to respond. If you have any queries about this email, please don't hesitate to contact the policy team.
11/05/2015: Survey - Should charities be borrowing to increase their impact?
Charity Finance Group is supporting Knowledge Peers’ Charity Leaders’ Exchange in new research on organisation’s finance strategies.
In our Managing in the New Normal survey, CFG found that appetite for social investment has remained unchanged over the past few years and only 3% of charities use loan finance on a regular basis.
The Charity Leaders’ Exchange, with input from CFG, has put together a 30 minute survey for individuals involved in decision-making in their charity, including trustees, to understand the different factors influencing decisions when it comes to accessing finance.
As part of the research process, there is also an evening seminar at 4pm on 21st May, at Fleet Street, London (EC4A 2DQ). RSVP by emailing Knlowedge Peers.
You can take part of the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/s/charitydebt. Participants in the survey will receive a copy of the report in late June 2015.
28/04/2015: CFG sends letter to all parties to back Gift Aid
Charity Finance Group and Institute of Fundraising have sent a letter to potential Treasury Ministers in all parties to ask them to back Gift Aid after the election.
The letter outlines the importance of Gift Aid in the midst of a tough funding climate for charities and calls for government to work with charities to improve take up, and commit to not taking any measures that would reduce take up of eligible Gift Aid claims.
Gift Aid is worth over £1bn to charities every year, but hundreds of millions of pounds of Gift Aid goes unclaimed ever year.
CFG has made improving Gift Aid take up one of its post-election priorities for the next government.
You can download a copy of our letter here.
17/04/2015: CFG produces briefing on party manifestos
CFG has published a short briefing outlining and analysing policies in each of the main party manifestos. Most analysts are predicting a hung Parliament with either a formal coalition between two (or more) parties or informal agreements between parties on key issues such as the Budget.
This makes it more important than ever that charities understand the policies of all the main parties, as these will be the key building blocks for discussions on the next government.
The briefing also identifies cross-cutting trends common to many of the manifestos - and highlights areas charities will need to adapt to, regardless of which party (or parties) are in government.
Download the briefing here.
13/04/2015: CFG outlines post-Election priorities
Ahead of the General Election, Charity Finance Group has produced a short briefing for members on its policy priorities for the next government titled 'Supporting charities to do good' (.pdf).
The briefing is based on Charity Finance Group’s work this parliament in improving the financial operating environment for charities and consultation with members.
The briefing outlines five policies for the next government to institute:
- Invest in a sector-led campaign to improve public awareness and understanding of Gift Aid.
- Create a mechanism for charities to claim irrecoverable VAT so that more resources can be freed up to achieve charitable objectives.
- Pass legislation to enable charities to avoid triggering section 75 debt if they close their pension scheme to future accruals by members.
- Increase and put on a long term footing the budget of Charity Commission so that the regulator is able to fully carry out its investigations and compliance work without compromising the provision of essential guidance and support for charities and trustees in meeting charity law requirements.
- Build financial capacity in the sector by ensuring that funding to improve financial management skills in charities is included in future government spending programmes for the sector.
13/04/2015: Impact of business rate retention scheme
CFG has released a policy briefing for charities on business rate relief (.pdf), which coincides with current discussion on the long term future of business rates by the government.
CFG’s briefing highlights:
- The history of the business rate relief;
- The value of the relief to the sector;
- Factors impacting business rate policy;
- The impact of the Business Rate Retention Scheme (BRRS) on charitable business rate relief
It also contains recommendations for charities and government on the future of the relief.
09/04/2015: Consultation on business rate relief
The government is currently consulting on the future of business rate relief. As part of that process, charitable business rate relief is being considered.
Alongside other charity membership bodies, CFG has developed a short survey to gauge the views of charities on the operation of the relief and its impact.