2014, politics, and charities

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January 10, 2014 at 15:15

I am trying to ascertain whether my current outlook for the year ahead is one of optimism or pessimism.  On the one hand there are huge challenges ahead, both for society and for the charity sector.  On the other, the economy is slowly recovering, unemployment continues to decrease and there is a World Cup, and that’s always fun.  I have come to the conclusion that I am somewhere in between the two. In 2014 there are some big issues that are going to carry on being thumped back and forth in a metaphorical political game (a bit like tennis, only […]

Oh the weather outside is frightful… but in here it’s Autumn, delightful!

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December 4, 2013 at 13:43

Before you’ve had time to open door 5 of your advent calendar tomorrow the Chancellor will be standing up to give his, ahem, Autumn Statement.  Unlike previous years he may be able to strike a warmer tone from the start with this one.  The usual downscaling of economic projections will most likely be swapped for an altogether more positive summary of the economic position; growth figures, for once, may be bigger than expected. Reason for the Chancellor to celebrate?  This will certainly help Osborne to back up his plan to stick with the plan.  It might also give a bit […]

Research questions to get our teeth into on Gift Aid

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December 2, 2013 at 09:57

The National Audit Office has released a report on HMRC, Gift Aid and other tax reliefs on donations.  Overall it estimates the cost to the exchequer of these tax reliefs to be around £2bn, around half of which goes to charities.  One of the main findings the NAO has stressed is that there is not enough data to ascertain a causal link between Gift Aid and changes in giving behaviour.  Subsequently there is little to determine the value for money of the scheme.  Despite this, most in the sector would argue the success of the Gift Aid brand and the […]

Accounting for different charity structures

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November 15, 2013 at 12:22

The legal and reporting framework anchors the values shared by charities, while still allowing flexibility where there is divergence in business model. The guidance for financial reporting in charities, or the SORP, provides part of the anchor, but should also enable innovation.  That’s where references in financial reporting guidance to new age concepts like social investment can come in.  But it’s not just about the newbies; old chestnuts such as how to account for trading subsidiaries are also critical to innovation.  Charity trading has developed immensely, from something previously aligned with running a few charity shops, to contracting out services, selling […]

CFG has its say on the Charities SORP consultation

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November 4, 2013 at 11:28

The Charity ‘Statement of Recommended Practice’ (SORP) is the principal document informing charities on how they should report income, spending and activities to the general public. A new version, not updated since 2005, was finally put out for consultation in July and has understandably been a major focus of CFG’s work ever since. We estimate that over 250 of our members have actively contributed to our response which we published today.  We’ve been trying to emphasise the significance of the SORP in sector accountability, ensuring consistent and proportionate levels of transparency.  Hopefully some of this work has paid off, but […]

What’s really new about the new SORP?

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August 5, 2013 at 12:22

We haven’t had a new SORP since 2005, and in that time we have managed to bring in a whole new accounting framework in the UK.  Despite this, if you ask the average charity auditor what difference the new SORP is going to make day-to-day, the answer is likely to be, ‘erm, probably not much’. Many of the major issues that had the potential to de-rail charities were dealt with in earlier consultations on the accounting standards – such as valuing donated stock in charity shops.  It’s important to remember that the SORP only interprets and provides guidance on these […]

The significance of the Spending Review

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June 25, 2013 at 13:38

In 2010 the Spending Review set departmental expenditure limits (DELs) from 2011/12 to 2014/15, outlining details of savings in the region of £86bn over that time. Tomorrow, nearly three years later and not much closer to eliminating the structural deficit, a new Spending Review will set DELs for the year 2015/16, aiming to achieve another £11.5bn of cuts. The next general election is set for 2015 and Labour has already said they will honour DELs set for the 2015/16 financial year.  The significance of this review is not necessarily the length of the period to which it refers though, but […]

De-regulation for the sake of it?

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March 14, 2013 at 12:10

The Government’s ‘red tape challenge’ sounds like some sort of physical assault course; conjuring images of hapless workers wading through paperwork, red tape tied round their ankles, tripping over giant copies of the tax code and stumbling into open filing cabinets spilling over with old employment contracts.  Underneath the rhetoric, the implication is that the current state of ‘regulation’ hinders business and innovation; the Government wants us to tell them what bits to scrap.  Unless talking about bankers, the idea that regulation is a catalyst for fair business is all but lost.  This is despite the fact that we have […]

‘Tell me what I have to do…’

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January 29, 2013 at 16:45

The Impact Leadership Conference, a new addition to the CFG calendar and a new collaboration with our partners NPC, promised to be challenging and exciting from the start.  Impact is highly topical, and following the work that has been done to cement some basic principles and ideas sector wide, it seemed timely to hold an event which would offer support to sector leaders that really want to take this on, to get better at it and to further develop peer learning. To say the least, there is varied understanding of impact in the sector.  There are those that probably believe […]

Public service delivery is risky business

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January 2, 2013 at 12:49

The end of the year saw government announcing a series of master classes to aid charities bidding for contracts to better understand the new public service delivery environment.  Due in Spring 2013, this complements the Commissioning Academy which aims to improve the relationship from the other side, helping commissioners understand how to interact with civil society. Both are welcome, much needed, and should help to improve understanding of the challenges and priorities for both parties – in particular informing their risk profiles. Although it’s a sweeping generalisation, it is fair to say that both charities and local authorities can be […]