ACO Spring conference tackles today’s problems head on
The 2013 Association of Charitable Organisation’s (ACO) spring conference took today’s economic and social challenges as its starting point for a debate between government and trusts and foundations.
James Bevan, Chief Investment Officer at CCLA, highlighted the various perils facing investors including the accumulating debt burden and the difficulty of doing “business as usual” for the foreseeable future.
Dame Carol Black, the Department of Health’s Expert Advisor focused on improving the welfare of working people. She outlined the advantages of using existing resources, such as those in the NHS, to find creative, preventative solutions to ill health and helping people back to productive and fulfilling working lives.
Julia Unwin CBE, Chief Executive of Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the Joseph Rowntree Housing Trust discussed the impact of welfare reform on the work of grant-making trusts. She stated that the reforms would have a major impact on household budgets and warned that the changes would lead to an increase in destitution.
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, appointed by the Government to lead its review of the Charities Act 2006, and Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations debated the future for charities.
Sir Stuart gave a speech on the role of the Charity Commission in the recent Cup Trust affair that gained wide press coverage in The Times, Third Sector and Civil Society. He said that the lack of action brought damage and disrepute to the sector, potentially at serious risk of losing the trust and confidence of the public. He concluded: “It seems in the case of the Cup Trust, the Commission was so concerned about what it couldn’t do, that it didn’t do what it could.”
Lord Hodgson gave a report on his work reviewing the Charity Act, commenting on charity registration, the role of HMRC and the Charity Commission. He suggested how they might work together to clamp down on tax avoidance schemes, the need to move away from a tick box approach to regulation and encouraging good “judgement, not process”.
Julian Stanley, Group Chief Executive of Teacher Support Network and David Sulkin, Chief Executive at the Musicians Benevolent Fund presented a detailed and expert introduction to strategic planning for benevolent funds. He also reflected on the trend among ACO members to review and restructure their operations to anticipate new and growing demands on their services.
To round off Alison Taylor, Director of Turn2us and Alban Hawksworth, Welfare Benefits Specialist, gave an introduction to the rapidly growing portfolio of support services offered to benefit claimants and applicants for charitable funds and ran through a concise and comprehensive round up on benefit changes. No mean feat!