Dormant Assets and Charities Bill confirmed by Queen’s Speech

The Dormant Assets Bill and Charities Bill will be brought before Parliament this year, the Queen’s Speech has revealed.

Delayed by over a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the two major pieces of legislation could significantly change the landscape for charities and non-profit organisations.

What is the Dormant Assets Bill and Charities Bill?

According to the Government, the new Charities Bill will address a “range of issues” in charity law that potentially “hamper” organisations’ day-to-day activities.

Some 43 issues were identified by the Law Commission’s 2017 report, Technical Issues in Charity Law, which recommended the following solutions:

  • giving charities more flexibility to obtain tailored advice when they sell land, and removing unnecessary administrative burdens
  • changes to the law to help charities amend their governing documents more easily with Charity Commission oversight where appropriate
  • increased flexibility to use their permanent endowment, 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.

The Dormant Assets Bill, meanwhile, is intended to expand the existing dormant assets scheme and unlock a potential £900 million of funds for the third sector.

How will the changes impact charities?

Confirming the Government’s priorities for the coming year, the Queen said the new rules will reduce “unnecessary bureaucracy” and release “additional funds for good causes”.

Aarti Thakor, director of legal and accountancy services at the Charity Commission, added that the proposed changes would make life simpler for charity trustees and followed “extensive consultation” over the past few years.

“When enacted, they will ease some of the regulatory pressures, reducing unnecessary bureaucracy and enabling charities to deliver greater impact for the people and causes they are set up to support,” she said.

“Given the additional pressures placed on trustees during the pandemic, this is especially welcome.”

For help and advice with related matters, please get in touch with our expert charity finance team today.

Posted in Charities, News.