egula ory Case R
ory Case R
omorr ed Charity Name
ow’s People Trust Limited
t ed Charity Number xxxx
ered Charity Number 1102759
This is a Regulatory Case Report of the Charity
Commission’s assessment of concerns raised about the
contribution of Tomorrow’s People Trust Limited (‘the
Charity’) to the General Election manifesto of a political
party. The Commission’s Report is published on 13 August
The Charity’s contribution to the manifesto of a political party issued at the time of the General
Election raised concerns that the Charity may have or may have been seen as providing and
encouraging general support for a political party. The support of a political party is not permitted
under charity law, and as such this issue has the potential to impact not just on the work and
reputation of the Charity, but also on public trust and confidence in charities generally.
Having regard to the principles of best regulatory practice, the Charity Commission (‘the
Commission’) has decided to publish this Regulatory Case Report1 on its recent assessment into
This report also identifies issues for the wider sector.
1. Tomorrow’s People Trust Limited was incorporated in January 2004 and is governed by a
Memorandum and Articles of Association as amended by special resolution dated 18 June 2009. It
was entered onto the Commission’s Register of Charities on 22 March 2004.
2. The Charity’s objects are:
1) to further the education and training of persons and in particular young persons by providing
them with opportunities of work experience and of such training facilities and educational
courses as will enable such persons as aforesaid to acquire and develop professional vocational
and special skills; and
2) such other charitable purposes as the trustees shall from time to time determine.2
3. The Charity describes itself as follows:
“An independent employment charity which works nationally with the long-term unemployed,
helping people overcome personal barriers so that they can move into long-term, sustainable
jobs. Our objective is to help those who are furthest from the labour market to get and keep a
job, by preparing them for work and supporting them through their individual return-to-work
1 More information on Regulatory Case Reports can be found under ‘Our regulatory activity’.
2 The Charity’s objects, as stated in their governing document, are published on the Charity Commission’s website:
4. The Charity’s accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2009 show an income of £7,981,260
and expenditure of £7,620,171. The charity’s income includes £6,717,834 funding from regional
Government Offices, local authorities and the London Development Agency.
Source of concern
5. On 19 April 2010 a concern was raised with the Commission about the Charity’s contribution to the
Conservative Party manifesto3 (‘the Manifesto’). The Manifesto featured comments from Debbie
Scott4, the Charity’s Chief Executive, about the work of the Charity and the single Work Programme
of the Conservative Party (‘the Party’), supported by a full page photograph of the Chief Executive.
6. The Charity’s contribution to the Manifesto raised concerns for the Commission that in agreeing to
appear in the Manifesto and supporting Conservative Party policy the Charity was endorsing the
Party generally. This called into question the Charity’s impartiality and independence from party
7. The Commission took the view that these issues constituted a potential infringement of the charity
trustees’ duties and responsibilities and the Commission’s published guidance on charities engaging
in political activities5, and therefore warranted further examination. 6
8. The Commission’s Compliance assessment case6 was opened on 20 April 2010, and concluded
on 27 May 2010.
9. The purpose of the Commission’s assessment was to determine if the Charity had acted
inappropriately, by directly or indirectly supporting or endorsing the Party by contributing to its
10. As part of its assessment, the Commission immediately engaged with the Charity in order to
obtain further information. The Commission also reviewed the extract of the Manifesto which
featured the photograph and comments of the Charity’s Chief Executive.
11. This was the Commission’s first engagement with the Charity regarding concerns of this nature.
The trustees have co-operated with the Commission’s assessment and accepted the regulatory
advice and guidance provided.
4 Debbie Scott now Baroness Stedman-Scott was introduced to the House of Lords on 19 July 2010 as a working peer.
5 Speaking out: Guidance on Campaigning and Political Activity by Charities
(CC9) and Charities and Elections
6 The assessment was conducted in accordance with the Commission’s published Risk and Proportionality Framework for its Compliance work
and guidance Complaints About Charities
12. As a result of its Compliance assessment, the Commission’s findings are as follows:
13. The Commission has published guidance on the extent to which charities can engage in political
activities. In relation to support for a political party, our guidance is clear that a charity cannot give
support to any one political party. To support a political party is not in itself a charitable purpose.
However, a charity may give support to a specific policy which is advocated by a political party. A
charity cannot give general support to a political party, because all political parties have a range
of policies. So if a charity endorses a party because it agrees with one policy, it is effectively
supporting the party as a whole and will be endorsing the party’s wider policies, which are nothing
to do with the charity’s purposes. While support for a specific policy may be an important way of
contributing to a charity’s purposes, support for a political party even when it advocates a policy
that the charity supports, is not open to a charity. A charity cannot give financial support, or support
in kind, to a political party.
Summary of events
14. The Charity was approached by the Party and asked to provide a ‘case study’ for their Manifesto.
The Charity understood that other charities would also be submitting similar pieces. The Charity
informed the Commission that their involvement in the Manifesto was to support a specific policy
– the single Work Programme - and they were not giving broad endorsement to Conservative Party
policy as a whole.
15. The charity informed the Commission that they did not intend to review the Manifesto other than
the extract containing the Chief Executive’s comments and photograph. The Charity also informed
the Commission that they were not then given the opportunity to comment on or sign off the
extract of the Manifesto containing the Chief Executive’s comments and photograph before it was
16. The Charity informed the Commission that the wording and emphasis of the Chief Executive’s
comments were changed without their knowledge or consent. They advised that the prominence
and positioning of the Charity’s contribution, including the photograph, in the Manifesto was greater
than they had anticipated or would have approved.
17. The Commission acknowledges that the published version of the Chief Executive’s comments was
different to the comments that the Charity had submitted. However, the Commission concluded that
both the submitted and published versions of the Chief Executive’s comments favourably compared
the Charity’s view on welfare to work strategies with the Party’s single Work Programme policy.
18. Following the publication of the Manifesto, the Charity has raised concerns with the Conservative
Party about the way in which the Chief Executive’s comments were altered.
19. It is clear from our engagement with the Charity, that in agreeing to contribute to the Manifesto, it
was not the Charity’s intention to provide or encourage support for the Party.
The charity’s decision making
20. The Charity has a Communications Working Group comprising two trustees, the Chief Executive
and the Marketing and Communications Director. Under the agreed delegation procedures of the
Communications Working Group, the decision to contribute to the Manifesto was made by the Chief
Executive and the Marketing and Communications Director. The trustees were made aware of the
decision to contribute after the information had been submitted to the Conservative Party.
21. The trustees have confirmed that they fully supported the decision that was made to contribute to
the Manifesto and accept that the comments made by the Charity’s Chief Executive were made for
and on behalf of the Charity.
22. The trustees assert that the purpose of contributing to the Manifesto was to influence the policies
of the Party in the interest of the charity’s beneficiaries. The trustees told the Commission that they
believe that the version submitted would not have breached the legal and regulatory requirements
as set out in the Commission’s published guidance on charities and political activities if, as the
charity expected, the original text had been used; if it had been accompanied by a thumbnail
photograph and if the piece had been part of a number of endorsements from other charities.
Evaluation and management of risks
23. The Charity did take some steps to manage and mitigate the risks associated with contributing to
the Manifesto by following their usual practice of also approaching the other major political parties
to offer to comment on their welfare to work policies. However, none of these offers were accepted.
24. The trustees were not able to demonstrate that they, or the delegated group, had sufficiently
considered and managed all the risks arising from the decision to contribute to the Manifesto. In
particular, the trustees did not consider the possibility that changes may be made to the content of
the Charity’s submission or that it may be used for the benefit of the Party rather than that of the
Charity and its beneficiaries.
25. The Commission recognises that certain steps were taken to mitigate the risks to the Charity
and maintain its political neutrality. However, the Commission concluded that these steps were
insufficient to protect the Charity’s reputation and independence from party politics. As such, the
perception of the Charity’s independence and political neutrality has been adversely affected.
26. The Commission was unable to see how the trustees could have properly discharged their legal
duties and responsibilities and complied with the guidance on charities and political activities by
contributing to the Manifesto. An election manifesto is, by its nature, a party political publication
which taken as a whole promotes a political party and its policies in order to secure votes in an
election. Its aim is to present the party in the most favourable light in order to secure votes and
any material within it, including any contribution by a charity, will be there to further that aim.
27. By agreeing to contribute to the Manifesto, the Charity has provided support to the Party
and this is the case even if the contribution was only intended to support the single Work
Programme. The Commission was unable to see how this decision would not adversely affect
the Charity’s independence or fail to be perceived as providing or encouraging support for
the Party policies as a whole. Appearing within the Party’s manifesto has called the Charity’s
independence and political impartiality into question because it can be seen to be an
endorsement of the wider policies of the Party.
28. In the Commission’s view the decision to contribute to the Manifesto was both high risk and
novel and as such it was inappropriate for this to be delegated. This decision should have been
considered by the full board of trustees, although given the circumstances it could not have
been approved, even by the full board of trustees.
29. The Commission provided the Charity with advice and guidance regarding the legal and regulatory
requirements that must be complied with by charities and the risks associated with any
engagement within the political environment. In particular, the Charity was made aware of the
importance of protecting its independence and perceptions of its independence in its links and
associations with any political parties. The Commission has received assurances that the Charity
strives to remain independent of party politics at all times.
Issues for the wider sector
30. It is a fundamental principle that charities must remain independent from party politics and cannot
give support to a political party, politician or candidate.
31. During an election period, the need for impartiality and balance is intensified, and charities must
take particular care when undertaking any activities in the political arena to ensure that the
charity’s independence is maintained and that there is no perception that its independence is being
adversely affected by the charity’s activities.
32. Contributing to an election manifesto or any party political publication would have the inevitable
result of providing or encouraging support for a particular political party, or at the very least, the
perception of doing so. As a charity cannot support or encourage support for any political party, the
Commission is unable to see how a charity could demonstrate that it had sufficiently considered and
managed all the risks arising from a decision to contribute to an election manifesto or party political
33. It is permissible for a charity to seek to influence the policies of a political party or parties where
this will contribute to the delivery of its own charitable purposes. Where a charity’s policy position
on a particular issue Is similar to or coincides with that of one of the political parties, it is also
acceptable for the charity to continue to campaign on that issue and advocate its adoption.
However, where it does so, the charity must emphasise its independence from any political party
advocating the same policy and do nothing to encourage support for any political party.
34. During election periods, charities must steer clear of explicitly comparing its views (favourably or
otherwise) with those of the political parties or candidates taking part in the election. The key point
is that whilst charities can attempt to influence public opinion on a particular issue, if it furthers or
supports their objects, they must leave it to the electorate to make their own decisions about how
35. The independent nature of the charitable sector is of fundamental importance to society, and is
greatly valued by the public. Trustees of charities which engage in political activity, or with people
in the political arena, should pay particular attention to the inherent risks associated with the nature
of the work they undertake. Where risks are identified, trustees need to be satisfied that such risks
can be sufficiently managed or mitigated. Whilst charities can engage with political parties and
politicians, in doing so they must always ensure the political neutrality of the work they do. This
means that a charity cannot champion or otherwise support the Government, one political party
and/or discredit another.
36. It is legitimate for trustees to delegate decisions regarding the day-to-day management of a
charity to staff and others. However, where they do so, the trustees must always retain ultimate
responsibility and accountability for all decisions that are made. Trustees must ensure they have
established clear and robust reporting procedures and lines of accountability. High risk and novel
decisions should not be delegated but considered and authorised by the trustees. Appropriate
guidelines should be drawn up to help those making decisions on delegated committees to assess
what is likely to be high risk or novel.
You can obtain large-print versions
of this publication from the Charity
Commission on 0845 300 0218
Telephone: 0845 300 0218
Typetalk: 0845 300 0219