The Charities Act 2022 (the Act) received Royal Assent on 24 February 2022 and brings into force a number of key changes to the Charities Act 2011, aimed at simplifying a number of processes.
While the Act comes into force on the date on which it was passed, a number of the provisions of the Act will only come into force when secondary legislation has been passed. It is expected that this will take place on a staggered basis over the next 12 – 18 months. In addition, the Charity Commission will be updating their guidance and online tools for each change to the Act.
We have set out below some of the key changes.
Governing document amendments
Amendments have been made to the Act to more closely align the rules for charities amending their constitution irrespective of the legal structure. Whilst the Commission will still need to approve any regulated amendments (e.g. changes to the charity’s objects), they will now apply the same consistent criteria to approve these.
A number of changes have been made in respect of permanent endowments.
Firstly, the definition of permanent endowments has been updated with a simplified definition where property* is considered to be a permanent endowment if it is ‘subject to a restriction on being expended which distinguishes between income and capital’.
* Property as defined in UK legislation
The Charities Act has also been updated to increase the maximum value of a permanent endowment that Trustees can resolve to release restrictions on spending capital from £10,000 to £25,000. This power has also been extended to incorporated entities.
In addition, a new provision in the Act will allow Trustees to borrow up to 25% of the value of a charity’s permanent endowment subject to the amount being repaid within 20 years of being borrowed.
These new and amended powers will grant Trustees of permanently endowed charities increased flexibility in times of economic uncertainty.
The Act introduces new rules granting the power for trustees to apply cy-près, allowing charities more flexibility in response to a charity appeal that has failed, allowing donations to be applied for another charitable purposes rather than having to be returned to donors under certain conditions:
* The “agreed actions” are those agreed in writing between the charity trustees and the Commission as being reasonable in all the circumstances of the case to identify and find donors.
In order to avail themselves of the new rules, Trustees will need to pass a resolution having regard to (a) the desirability of securing that the purposes are, so far as reasonably practicable, similar to the specific charitable purposes for which the money or other property was given; and (b) the need for the purposes to be suitable and effective in the light of current social and economic circumstances.
Where the proceeds are in excess of £1,000 a copy of the resolution, along with a statement of their reasons for passing it to the Commission. Such a resolution does not take affect until consent is provided by the Commission in writing.
Payments to Trustees
Under the Charities Act 2011, Trustees (or a person connected to the trustee) may receive payment for the provision of services to a charity under certain conditions. The Act extends this provision to allow payment for the provision of goods to a charity.
Ex Gratia Payments
Amendments to the act allow for ex gratia payments to be made without the Commission’s consent, up to a maximum of £20,000 depending on the charity’s income. In addition, the amendments allow this decision to be delegated to staff.
A key amendment to the Act allows for legacies to be transferred to a merged charity. This change will remove the need for ‘shell charities’ to be maintained and therefore reduce administration costs.
Full details of all the changes can be found here and here.
Please get in touch with your usual Crowe contact or a member of the Social Purpose and Non Profits team if you would like to discuss this further.
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