As a break from the GDPR, we thought we would share a summary of the key points from our annual Charities Briefing which took place on 15 May.

The Digital Piece

We are delighted that David McNeill, Digital Director at SCVO, was able to join us for this session. David presented the SCVO’s digital strategy and explained the need for charities to:

  • explore changed expectations and new technology;
  • adapt by embedding digital across organisational strategy and challenging the ‘way we’ve always done it’;
  • invest in technology and digital skills; and
  • collaborate by sharing resources, skills and technology and using open standards, data and source platforms wherever possible.

Contracting/grants and tax treatment

Charities (in particular service-providing charities) should have a read of HMRC’s updated (January 2018) guidance on factors indicating a service contract (to which VAT applies) and factors indicting a grant. The guidance (available here) is relatively easy read and includes a summary of the relevant cases looked at by HMRC. We are still seeing a number of charities getting into difficulty as a result of not understanding the tax treatment of the arrangements they enter into.


We are still awaiting the outcome of the Scottish Public Pensions Agency (SPPA) consultation which will hopefully ease some of the burdens of charities participating in the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS). In the meantime, charities and third sector organisations should seek advice if they are looking to exit the LGPS or are entering into any outsourcing or service agreements with local authorities where LGPS pension provision is being considered. On more, wider budgeting aspects, charities should check their budgets and contracts to see whether they have catered for the next scheduled increase of “employer” contributions for auto-enrolment, which will take effect from 6 April 2019.

Safeguarding, notifiable events and Trustee duties

Our Briefing day included a very interesting panel session on this area following on from significant media coverage earlier in the year. The session included perspectives on how some of Scotland’s large and smaller charities are monitoring risk and putting in effective policies and procedures, a real life example from one of the very first “notifiable events” submitted for financial difficulty, the employment law perspective and an exploration of the dynamics that are thrown up, relevant to the legal duty on trustees to “act in the charity’s best interests” whilst also acting with sufficient transparency.

A useful practical point for all is to have a look at OSCR’s most recent interim guidance on safeguarding, published on 4 May, which also links into existing guidance on Trustees’ Duties and notifiable events.

… and GDPR

Today (25 May 2018) is the day – everyone is busy on it and all businesses, charities and third sector organisations included, need to ensure they are compliant. If you need some guidance and advice, please get in touch with our specialist team.