Giving the public confidence in charities

The Charity Commissions Strategic Plan 2015-18

A strong charitable sector is a vital part of civil society. The role of the Charity
Commission is crucial in upholding public trust and confidence in the charity
sector. To fulfil this role to the standard that Parliament and the public expects,
the commission must become a risk-based regulator focussed primarily on
enforcement and prevention.

Demands on the commission are constantly growing and expectations of the commission are changing.
The commission has responded. We have shifted resources into monitoring and investigations, increasing the number of statutory inquiries and the use of our most serious enforcement powers; we have improved collaboration with other government agencies; we have requested new powers, which were included in the
government’s Protection of Charities Bill, introduced in Parliament in May 2015, and we have considerably strengthened our counter terrorism work.
Our strategic plan for 2015-18 (the ‘Strategic Plan’) is framed by this context and determined by our statutory objectives and regulatory approach.

Charities Commission

Our statutory objectives
Our five statutory objectives, set out in the Charities Act 2011, are:
1. The public confidence objective: to increase public trust and confidence in charities.
2. The public benefit objective: to promote awareness and understanding of the operation
of the public benefit requirement.
3. The compliance objective: to promote compliance by charity trustees with their legal
obligations in exercising control and management of the administration of charities.
4. The charitable resources objective: to promote the effective use of charitable resources.
5. The accountability objective: to enhance the accountability of charities to donors,
beneficiaries and the public.

We can no longer devote the same level of resource to each of these statutory objectives as we previously could. This means changing the way we operate, allocating resources by relative priority and risk and working with our partners.
Our regulatory approach
Our regulatory approach is set out in the board’s statement of mission, regulatory approach and values, published in 2014.
We consider that we can best fulfil our statutory objectives with the resources at our disposal by:
• concentrating on promoting compliance by charity trustees with their legal obligations
• enhancing the rigour with which we hold charities accountable
• upholding the definition of charity under charity law and providing charity trustees with clear guidance about their legal obligations

We are confident that the commission can thus promote public trust and confidence in charities, and thereby encourage charitable giving and endeavour in all its forms.
This Strategic Plan sets out our strategic priorities for the next three years
Our strategic priorities
1. Protecting charities from abuse or mismanagement
Trust in charities is high, but abuse of any kind in just one charity damages the reputation of the whole sector, whether the abuse is deliberate or arises through mismanagement.
Since 2013, we have strengthened our approach to tackling abuse and mismanagement in charities. This continues to be a strategic priority and where we will direct most of our resource for regulatory engagement with charities.
We will do this principally by:
• regulating against an updated risk framework informed by better data, enabling us to
focus resources on the highest risk cases and those where we will have the most impact
on public confidence
• improving the speed and effectiveness with which we investigate wrongdoing, applying
our regulatory powers robustly and transparently
• taking more proactive action against the abuse of charities, in a way that is intelligence-led and based on a better understanding of the evolving threats and risks of abuse in the sector
• engaging effectively with other regulators and government agencies, particularly through
better data sharing in order to identify fraud and links between charities and criminal,
including terrorist or extremist, activities
• preventing problems arising through more and better targeted guidance and outreach work
2. Enabling trustees to run their charities effectively
There are around one million charity trustees, most of whom are unpaid volunteers, sometimes with limited knowledge of what being a trustee entails.
It is an essential part of our regulatory role, and a strategic priority, to enable trustees to run their charities effectively, in order to maximise the effective use of charitable resources.
Our financial circumstances mean that we can no longer give one to one bespoke advice to the extent we were once able. However, we will continue to support trustees, by giving them the information and tools they need, and use new ways to do that.
We will do this principally by:
• making it easier and more efficient for trustees to work with us, when they need permissions or other assistance, through better, more user-friendly digital services
• providing clear, accessible, focussed regulatory guidance to make it clear to trustees what they must do to comply with legal and regulatory norms
• using our powers, where necessary and appropriate, to give permissions to charities to help promote the effective use of their resources
• maximising our collaboration with third parties, such as charity funders, professional advisers
and umbrella bodies to help improve trustee effectiveness
3. Encouraging greater transparency and accountability by charities
Charities must never take public support for granted. We know that transparency and accountability is vital to public trust and confidence. Our register of charities provides assurance that a charity is genuinely set up for a charitable purpose and information about charities that often informs funding decisions.
Making legally correct decisions which protect the integrity of the register, and providing the public with up to date, accurate information about charities continues to be a strategic priority.
We will do this principally by:
• introducing an improved registration application process
• using shared data to satisfy ourselves of the legal eligibility of people to act as trustees
of charities
• following up on assurances made through more post registration monitoring and scrutiny
• being quicker to remove from the register those charities that cease to exist, become
insolvent, or which we decide are no longer, or never were, charities
4. Operating as an efficient, expert regulator with sustainable funding
Well-run charities deserve an efficient, robust regulator, recognised for its expertise and judgement and supported by a sustainable funding model.
Our new strategic priority is to deliver the benefits from our transformation programme1
and to reduce our dependence on taxpayer funding.
We will do this principally by:
• consulting on proposals for alternative funding options, including an annual charge for
registered charities
• investing the additional funding given to us by the Treasury in 2014 in redesigning our
operating model and business processes to reduce complexity and achieve higher efficiency and in new digital applications, making it easier for trustees and others to deal with us
Our strategy assures charities and the public that we will be robust in our approach to abuse and mismanagement. We believe that in so doing we will increase public trust and confidence in the administration of charities by their trustees.
Our strategy will also ensure the sustainability of the commission as a robust, proactive, proportionate, risk based regulator.

How To Get Back Into Work After A Spinal Cord Injury

When you have suffered a spinal cord injury the idea of returning to work may seem like a daunting prospect. However, there are many ways you can help make this process slightly less overwhelming:

What is a spinal cord injury (SCI)?

The spinal cord communicates two-way messages to and from the brain and skin, muscle and organs of your body. Spinal cord damage occurs as a result of accident or illness and interrupts the flow of messages, leading to the loss of movement and/or sensation in different parts of the body.  The severity of this is dependent on where the spinal cord has been damaged in relation to the vertebrae of the back and to the extent of the injury.

spinal cord injury

The benefits of returning to work?

Apart from the obvious physical impact, SCI can deeply affect your mental well-being. Depression and anxiety are a very common effect of this type of injury. Obviously, returning to work isn’t possible for everyone, but if it is an option, it can have the following positive effects:

  • Renewed independence and confidence
  • Improve your general health and well-being
  • Increase your self-esteem and give you a sense of purpose
  • Allow you to earn money and feeling like you are making a contribution
  • Encourage you to socialise and meet new people

Know your rights

Make sure that you are aware of all of your workplace rights. As a person with a disability you are legally protected by the Equality Act 2010. This ensures that you are legally entitled to fair treatment when it comes to recruitment, promotion and pay. It also means that employers must make their workplaces accessible to you. This may be by adapting the office equipment to make it easier for you to work, e.g. speech recognition software. Or by ensuring that you meet with an occupational therapist to discuss your skills, abilities and concerns so that they can come up with viable work options.

There are also two government schemes that you can access to help with your return to work:

  • Access To Work – provides money towards the cost of equipment or support workers that can help you to work.
  • Work Choice – a scheme that helps people with disabilities who cannot be helped by any other work scheme, get back into work.

For further information and help on returning back into the work place visit GOV.UK here.

Finances

You may be able to claim government benefits to help you return to work. Employment Support Allowance is offered not only to people who are unable to work due to disability/illness, but also to people who need personalised help so that they are able to work if they want to.

If your SCI was as the result of an accident that wasn’t your fault you may be able to claim compensation. Specialist companies like First4SeriousInjury can advise as to whether you are applicable for compensation and support you throughout your claim journey, reducing the stress involved in receiving what you may be owed.

Before we get into those, let’s get into the benefits of re-entering the workforce. Life changes so much after a spinal cord injury, that going back to work can provide a semblance of normalcy needed by the survivor. Work allows the survivor to feel useful, engage his or her brain, apply his or her talents and experience, and make friends and social connections. No wonder why it’s one of the main goals of all SCI survivors following rehabilitation!

However, a re-entry that isn’t thoughtful can have negative consequences. To that end, we suggest the survivor spend some time being assessed and counselled by a vocational therapist. The vocational therapist will assess the skills, interests, and capabilities of the person, and will help him or her come up with viable work options. The therapist can also ensure that the work environment is modified in a way that gives the survivor the best chance of success. Survivors who had jobs with certain physical requirements may need to change jobs or careers following the injury, while other people can perform their prior jobs with just a few adaptations. In either case, what’s most important is that the strengths of the survivor are focused on, instead of the weaknesses. Most vocational therapists, working with both the survivor and the employer, will develop a strategy designed to help the person succeed.