Re-opening of Village Halls and Community Buildings

With the Government announcing that village halls and community buildings are able to open from July 4th as part of phase 3, ACRE has published guidance for Village Hall Management Committees with regards to the safe re-opening of halls to ensure that they are Covid-19 secure.

We will update the post as soon as we get further government guidance.

The guidance documents below provide information on the safe re-opening of village halls and community buildings; making sure the hall is kept as clean as possible and that social distancing is still adhered to. By working together, this will hopefully make the future working arrangements as effective as possible with the least amount of disruption to activities.

Included is a checklist for management committees to work through, to help them re-open safely taking into consideration the various elements that will need to be addressed; as well as risk assessment templates for hall committees and hirers to complete.

We appreciate that this new way of working may seem a bit daunting for committees and hirers, but by following the guidance it should make it as seamless as possible

COVID-19 Information Sheet – Opening your hall after lockdown 6.7.20

Annual Returns

Charities that are due to submit an annual return now or in the near future and need an extension to their deadline due to the coronavirus pandemic should contact the Charity Commission, and ask the regulator for a filing extension.

The Commission has said that during the Covid-19 pandemic, “the charity sector will face challenges of looking after its staff, volunteers and trustees who may fall ill, have to self-isolate, or have to look after loved ones”.

It added that the sector has a vital role to play in looking after its beneficiaries, many of whom will be amongst the most vulnerable during this public health emergency.

Its statement said “We want to assure charities that our approach to regulation during this period will be as flexible and supportive as possible. Charities’ primary interest, and ours, must be looking after the public and the communities that we serve”.

When contacting the Charity Commission, please include your charity name and charity registration number when you email: filingextension@charitycommission.gov.uk

See more at: https://www.civilsociety.co.uk/news/covid-19-means-charities-can-ask-for-extensions-on-filing-annual-returns.html

MEETINGS

AGMs and other meetings: postponing or cancelling meetings

Coronavirus is having a major impact on charity events and the government’s health advice has lead to charities having to cancel or postpone their AGMs and other critical meetings.

As Trustees you should record this decision to cancel or postpone the meeting to demonstrate good governance of your charity. This is particularly important if it is not possible to hold your AGM, which may make it difficult for you to finalise your annual reports and accounts.

Wherever possible, we would ask you to try to get your annual reports to us on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date can email us.

Please include your charity name and charity registration number when you email: filingextension@charitycommission.gov.uk

Holding meetings online or by telephone

In the current situation, it is difficult to hold face-to-face meetings. Some charities have clauses in their governing documents that allow them to meet virtually or to use telephone facilities, so we advise trustees to check their governing document and see if they can make amendments themselves to facilitate changes as to how or when meetings are held.

Where there is no such clause in your governing document and you decide to hold meetings over the phone or using digital solutions, we will understand but you should record this decision and that you have done this to demonstrate good governance of your charity.

STAFF

The Government Job Retention Scheme came into power in light of the COVID-19. This scheme allows charities and businesses to put employees who would otherwise be unemployed as a result of the coronavirus on ‘Furlough’. This means that the employee does not work and the state finances 80% of their salary up to £2,500/mth. Employers have the opportunity to top this up to 100%.

Updated guidance states that: ‘confirmation that you can only claim for furloughed employees that were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020 and which were notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020. Employees that were employed as of 28 February 2020 and on payroll (i.e. notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 28 February) and were made redundant or stopped working for the employer after that and prior to 19 March 2020, can also qualify for the scheme if the employer re-employs them and puts them on furlough’.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wage-costs-through-the-coronavirus-job-retentionscheme

The way to make a claim is online – the service should be simple to use and any support you need available on GOV.UK. The online service that will be used to make claims is not available yet, but Government expects it to be available by the end of April 2020.

GUIDANCE FOR EMPLOYERS

Who can claim?

Any UK organisation with employees can apply, including businesses, charities, recruitment agencies and public authorities. You must have:

  • Created and started a PAYE payroll scheme on or before 19 March 2020
  • Enrolled for PAYE online – this can take up to 10 days
  • A UK bank account.