Charity finance policy Financial sustainability

What does the Queen’s speech mean for charities?

A raft of new policies were announced in the Queen's Speech on 11 May. CFG's Policy Manager, Richard Sagar, sifts through the small print to find out what's in store for charities.

The first Queen’s speech since the Pandemic was delivered on 11 May, and has seen a number of announcements on skills and planning which were widely reported. But there are a number of Bills which will be of direct relevance to CFG members.

They include:

  • The Charities Bill
  • The Subsidy Control Framework Bill
  • The Dormant Assets Bill

The Charities Bill is legislating for the proposals outlined in the Law Commissions review of technical issues in charity law. The government’s response to the law commission report earlier this year gives an indication of the recommendations that will be included in the Bill. But among them listed as the main elements of the Bill are:

  • Changing the law to help charities amend their governing documents more easily with Charity Commission oversight where appropriate.
  • Giving charities more flexibility to obtain tailored advice when they sell land, and removing unnecessary administrative burdens.
  • Increasing flexibility for charities to use their permanent endowment (assets or investments where the capital value must be preserved), with checks in place to ensure its protection in the long term.
  • Removing legal barriers to charities merging, when a merger is in their best interests.
  • Giving trustees advance assurance that litigation costs in the Charity Tribunal can be paid from the charity’s funds.

Government will provide further information and updates about the schedule for implementation in due course and CFG will continue to engage as the Bill passes through parliament.

The Subsidy Control Framework Bill

This Bill will “Implement a domestic UK subsidy control regime to reflect our strategic interests and particular national circumstances providing a legal framework within which public authorities make subsidy decisions. The listed main elements of the Bill are:

  • Creating a consistent set of UK-wide principles that public authorities must follow when granting subsidies.
  • Exempting categories of subsidies from certain obligations of the regime or leaving out of scope entirely.
  • Prohibiting and placing conditions on certain types of subsidies which are at a particularly high risk of distorting markets.
  • Obligating public authorities to upload information on subsidies to a new UK-wide, publicly accessible transparency database.
  • Establishing an independent subsidy control body to oversee the UK’s bespoke, modern subsidy control system.
  • Providing for judicial oversight and enforcement of the granting of subsidies.

Alongside Charity Tax Group and NCVO, we responded to the consultation on the White Paper for this Bill and are looking to ensure that the new subsidy control framework regime benefits the voluntary sector. You can find more information on what we think should be included in our joint response here.

The Dormant Assets Bill

Unlocking dormant assets to deliver the Community Wealth Fund has long been CFG's aim, having been included in numerous submissions to government. So it is positive news that the government is to introduce a Bill to unlock almost £880m for social and environmental initiatives.

One of the main elements of the Bill is: 'Aligning the model for how dormant assets funding is allocated in England with that used in the devolved administrations. This will enable Ministers to set, through secondary legislation, more specific purposes for the allocation of funding within the general 'social or environmental purpose''.

The scheme is to expand into the insurance and pensions, investment and wealth management, and securities sectors and Reclaim Fund Ltd has been named as the scheme’s authorised reclaim fund. This is all welcome news, but it is likely to take many years before any of the fund is released.

This post was last reviewed on 12 May 2021 at 09:57
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