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Don’t Miss the Deadline!
Don’t forget the Deadline for Charity Commission returns. It is the worst time of the year for many charities but help is at hand. The Charity Commission has updated its guidance on how to complete the annual monitoring return with helpful screenshots of the online return.
The Charity Commission has identified that October and January are two peak periods in which charities must submit their annual monitoring return to the charity register. If your registered charity’s financial year is 1 April – 31 March then you will have a deadline of 31 January.
All registered charities must submit their examined annual accounts and trustees’ report along with the annual monitoring return within 10 months after their full financial year after charity registration. If you haven’t received notification from the Commission that your accounts are due then please log in to the charity register to make sure that the ‘contact email for Commission use’ is correct. Please note that the publicly available email on the charity register may be different, so you need to log in to ‘Online services’ to check this.
If your charity is due to submit the annual monitoring return, please don’t leave it to the last minute as you may not have all the information to hand that you need to submit. Please note that if you file your return after the due date, a notice stating that the documents were received late will be marked in red on the public register and will stay there until the following year, even if you’re one day late.
The Commission has identified that common errors in previous returns to the charity register have included: accounts not being audited or independently examined; auditor’s/examiner’s report not included; trustees’ report not submitted; or the accounts not properly prepared. For example, accrual accounts must comply with the Charities SORP and receipts and payments accounts must include a ‘Statement of assets and liabilities’, even if the charity does not have any property.
Please see the Commission’s guidance on completing the annual monitoring return to ensure you have all the right information, or indeed if you have already submitted your return, check it to make sure it is complete. It is available along with the Commission’s other guidance on accounts and annual reporting below:
If you have any queries regarding the accounting and reporting requirements please don’t hesitate to contact the LEXXER Team who will provide an accounts completion and check service, along with a submission service to make sure you get your returns in on time.
PEACE of Mind
At this time of great national uncertainty the prospect of BREXIT and especially a No Deal BREXIT has caused near panic in certain quarters. It is often hard to discern political spin and point scoring from genuine practical problems however it is safe to say that no other area of the UK will be as effected by BREXIT as Northern Ireland.
While agriculture and the small business sector have been most vocal it is the community and voluntary sector which stands to lose out most. Our Third Sector has become reliant on European funding most notably the PEACE Programmes which have been a feature of the funding landscape for over two decades.
Great uncertainty has prevailed as many projects had feared the worst. Therefore it is a pleasure to bring at least a small piece of good news.
Around £300 Million of funding will be committed to projects to support peace in Northern Ireland, the UK Government has announced.
The UK Government has committed to contributing millions of pounds to PEACE Plus, the programme that will succeed the current PEACE scheme, until 2027, as part of its commitment to uphold the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland after Brexit.
PEACE has helped promote economic and social progress in Northern Ireland and the border region of Ireland since 1995. The current programme – run with funding from the UK, Ireland and EU – will end in 2020.
This new funding will enable work to continue to build on the almost £1.8 billion (€2 billion) of investment in projects in both Northern Ireland and Ireland, including landmark projects such as the £14.5m PEACE bridge in Derry-Londonderry, which has linked communities across the River Foyle.
One organisation that has shown the benefit is Youth Action NI in Belfast, an organisation that used PEACE funding to help bring together young people from different communities in Northern Ireland. It established the ‘Youth Network for Peace’ – a regional project involving 10,000 young people in a range of participative social action projects on a cross-community and cross-border basis.
War and all that Follows
Thinking of those who served in the Armed Forces and the nation’s covenant with them. Making good on that national commitment.
A recent Christmas present, the biography of Jason Fox entitled ‘Battle Scars’ set me thinking about debt owed to those who served their country. While the headlines of Iraq and Afghanistan play large in the media, we know little of these men and women’s battles after they return home.
The memoir by Jason Fox, an ex-special forces soldier and frontman of Channel 4’s hit show “SAS: Who Dares Wins”, is a powerful insight into not just the guts and glory but also the pain and permanent scars of war.
Indeed that title Battle Scars, says it all as Fox not only gives exciting accounts of the operations that defined his military service but honestly discusses the the psychological impact of modern combat.
Fox’s memoir has been described as both “adrenaline-fuelled” and “an important story” for its exploration of mental health in the armed forces. After a military career spanning 20 years, including 10 years as a Royal Marine Commando and 10 years in the Special Boat Service, Fox was diagnosed with PTSD in 2012. A year later found himself standing on a cliff-edge in Devon contemplating suicide.
Fox called the book “the story of my rise, my fall and my recovery”. “It deals in the truths about men, the military and mental health, and tells the story of my career in the Special Forces, and what happened to me once I’d trained and served as an elite operator only to lose it all.”
While working as a lobbyist at Westminster one of my biggest battles and greatest victories was in helping to secure the passage of the legislation which underpinned the Armed Forces Covenant. The Armed Forces Covenant is a statement of the moral obligation which exists between the nation, the Government and the Armed Forces. It was published in May 2011 and its core principles were enshrined in law, for the first time, in the Armed Forces Act 2011. It applies to all three services.
The Covenant articulates the view that the nation has a moral obligation to members of the Armed Forces Community in return for the sacrifices they make. Specifically, the Covenant outlines two core principles:
No disadvantage: no current or former member of the armed forces, or their families, should be at a disadvantage compared to other citizens in the provision of public and commercial services.
Special consideration: special consideration is appropriate in some cases, particularly for those who have been injured or bereaved.
The Armed Forces Act 2011 does not create legally enforceable rights for Service personnel but it does require the Secretary of State for Defence to report to Parliament each year on the progress made with respect to the Covenant. In that regard it is much like the ongoing personal battles of ex-servicemen with a continual struggle away from the headlines to ensure success. The Covenant offers real help and support to many who are still living with the mental and physical scars of war. The annual report to Parliament ensures that a regular check is made against performance. The real need however is to embed the Covenant and its ethos into local life in communities and Councils. This is part of the normalisation which is required after years of conflict, where the armed forces are seen as p[art of the community, a viable career option for young people and a source of pride for all. We may differ on our views of war, its necessity and its conduct, however we should all be able to agree that when there has been a national decision to engage in conflict those we send to fulfil that wish should be looked after in the theatre of conflict and upon their return.
At LEXXER Solutions we provide support for a number of ex-services charities and personnel at a local level. It is our aim this year to help at least three charities to access the funding attached to the Covenant, and through three projects to I’m prove the lives of veterans. We will also work to ensure that the Covenant is fully and properly implemented in Northern Ireland.
Our first successful project funded by the Armed Forces Covenant funding was back in 2016 where we worked with a number of local community groups to integrate the ex-service community into a wider community festival. We also helped with research and wider heritage programming to commemorate the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme linking groups like the Royal British Legion, and Help for Heroes with a range of local community and cultural groups.
The project was educational, commemorative and a celebration of the contribution of the Armed forces. Our skills in the study and presentation of often contested heritage and history allowed us to work with Mid and East Antrim Council to present a programme of activities over three weeks which respected the sensitivities of the Troubles and allowed still divided communities to come together and celebrate a shared military tradition.
Practical Help through Projects
Each year LEXXER Solutions offers pro bono support ( a fancy American term for free help and support) to a number of chosen charities. We would like to prioritise ex-service charities or those working to help this sector. So come and speak to one of the team today if you have a project idea or a need that has to be met. The first point of contact will be the grants offered by the Armed Forces Covenant.
Under the Armed Forces Covenant Local Grants programme, grants of up to £20,000 are made for local projects that support community integration or local delivery of services.
Community Integration projects should create strong local links between the Armed Forces community, who are current and former members of their armed forces and their families) and civilian communities; and be able to clearly demonstrate how they will have impact in overcoming barriers to better integration; and improving perceptions, attitudes and understanding. For the project to be truly effective in achieving community integration there should be shared development, delivery and benefits for both communities.
Delivery of Local Services projectsshould be local projects which offer financial advice, housing, mental and physical health, employability or social support for serving armed forces personnel, veterans, and their families. Projects must be well connected, both to their beneficiaries and to other relevant organisations, and be able to demonstrate how the services they provide will be well-publicised, accessible and joined up.
You can only apply for a grant online, and you should read the Local Grants Guidance carefully. You can also read the application questions before you access the online form to get an idea of the information you you will need to provide.
Then come and speak to one of the LEXXER Team and we can guide you through the application process and ensure that you make the best case possible for your idea. This is needed to help others understand why there is a need for your project and how it fits with the programme aims.
You can read about past projects that we have awarded funding to so far. Your idea might not be something that we have funded previously. You can also read our terms and conditions of grant for the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Local Grants programme so that you can see what you will have to agree to if you are awarded a grant.
We are here to help and we would like to focus on practical projects which offer real help to ex-service personal especially with mental health issues. Our experience in working with victims of the Troubles have also given us a number of ideas which work, so if you know there is a need but just haven’t got the solution then that’s where we come in.
At LEXXER we help you to be heard, and ensure that your message is clear and consistent. Often the passion of a cause, or the urgency of the issue means that you or your firm or organisation are not in the best place to make strategic decisions. This is where we come in, with an external, professional and more strategic approach. Our ethos is simple – You Do the Talking, We will do the Thinking!
An effective issue advocacy campaign requires more than just good lobbying; it requires a strategic communications plan that utilizes every available asset. Winning communications strategies demand preparation, seamless coordination, and strong execution. Having the facts on your side is a good start, but those facts won’t help unless they are shaped into powerful arguments delivered in a manner that provides the most impact. That’s where our experience helps. Our experts have worked on hundreds of the highest profile and most complex public policy battles over the past two decades, and know how to prevail in the court of public opinion.
At LEXXER, we listen to what our clients want, ask key questions, and then develop the messages and media plan best suited to meeting their communications objective. This means building a plan specific enough to meet client goals, while at the same time encompassing enough flexibility to quickly respond to any unanticipated crisis or opportunity.
Our range of advocacy Services are geared to help you be heard.
MOMENTUM – Getting You Started
Faith in Action
An Answer to Prayer
Faith based groups feel that they are limited in their options for funding. With the difference of opinion over Lottery Funding and many churches feeling unable to avail of this central source of great aid a greater reliance on traditional sources of funding becomes necessary. However with congregations in decline weekly collections no longer meet the growing costs of ministries and even the basic upkeep of churches and ministers salaries.
Our services are geared to those who often find it difficult to access government funding, or whose committee or leaders are either divided or having difficulties making successful applications. We provide sympathetic yet professional advice and support with alternatives to Lottery Funding.
A good starting place will be a series of information and training events held by NICVA.
Training is available for faith-based organisations
NICVA is running several sessions for faith-based organisations over the coming months.
Tenders can often be intimidating with criteria and questions which make them feel like an end of term exam. However at LEXXER Solutions we Intend to make your Tender process as painless and successful as possible, with our experts and a simple to use process which will walk you through the often complex process.
Our services offer value for money as we cut costs not corners.
The service provides a concept to action approach
A honest assessment of success will be the first step, where if we feel that a client is not ready, or best placed to succeed we will provide alternative options.
The real value of our service is providing an informed independent view of your bid, helping to make it stronger and better. We will help you develop the tender or write it entirely with a range of skills and services to ensure when you win you will be able to deliver it.
So contact a member of the TEAM Today and see how we can hep you BID Better!
Download our Brochure
AIMing to Suceed
In the last year an increasing number of Heritage and Cultural Tourism Projects have been supported by the LEXXER Team. They are often unique and educational projects which aim to develop new audiences. We have studied the sector, and its potential and developed a range of bespoke heritage based services which will assist those who are custodians of heritage assets. We will provide the skills, services and support to protect, preserve and promote the heritage assets of a range of groups and communities as well as commercial clients such as landed estates, trusts and other companies which have an interest in the past.
Our AIMs Service looks at
ASSET AUDITING, ACCESS IMPROVEMENT & AUDIENCE DEVELOPMENT
INTERPRETATION, EDUCATION AND THE PROMOTION OF HERITAGE
MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE OF ASSETS AND FACILITIES
STRATEGIC DEVELOPMENT AND SUSTAINABILITY PLANNING
We will help you to asses how best to preserve, promote and protect the assets you have been entrusted with. We help you turn history into your story and to make it engaging and education through cutting edge technology.
AIMS Case Study
Download our Heritage Development Proposal
Lunch at the Launch
Today saw the first public day of the NI Open, on our doorstep here at the Galgorm Estate, so the LEXXER Team took a break to soak up the spirit of the event, and to meet potential new clients. Mixing business with pleasure we got into the swing of it, as minds were focussed on the best course for local golf clubs to take to up their game. In the run up to the NI Open we have been looking at the Golf Tourism market for a client and realised that local clubs were missing out in millions of pounds of funding and support.
The research we conducted looked at the policy frame work surrounding Northern Ireland Golf, as well as the plans for the future. The official Tourism Strategy sets the ambitious target as
To grow the value of golf tourism from the current estimate of £33m p.a. to £50m p.a. by 2020
Central to this strategy is the objective to – Develop stronger clubs, however there is little guidance to show how this will be done.
LEXXER conducted research and found that local clubs are backbone of the Golf Sector yet they are being ignored in terms of government funding. There are 94 golf courses in Northern Ireland, of which 31 are quality-assured by Tourism Northern Ireland. Of these, two are amongst the best-quality golf courses in the world: trophy courses which the international golfing community wants to play. A number of our other courses also have the potential to be trophy courses in the near future with the right investment and innovation.
There are 88 golf clubs, here with 31 are quality assured. This again shows that the majority of clubs are not participating in the official bench marking process and stand outside the main schemes set up to assist them. This is due to a range of reasons, many of which are not down to the individual clubs. They do not see the benefit, they are not constituted to take advantage of the schemes or the funding around them, they have their own traditional ways of doing things, the bureaucracy and paperwork involved outweigh any potential benefits.
Whatever the reason the result is the same – clubs are not benefiting from the support and funding they should be getting. They rely on fees and local sponsorship, which is a constant drain on members and friends. However with falling membership figures, and revenue many clubs are facing difficulties, and they need to look at alternative sources of revenue and membership
We have so much to offer in terms of golf tourism with a variety of choices – links and parkland – at different pricing bands. Internationally we have earned our reputation for links courses, and the home grown talent that is
McIlroy, McDowell and Clarke. The next decade is the window for local clubs to take advantage of our time in the sun.
However there are obstacles to development and accessing funding. The majority of courses are private members’ clubs, often with restricted visitor access, especially at weekends, with key times of day reserved for members. As an external consultant we are willing to ask the hard questions to start the difficult questions and to sponsor the change needed. Clubs such as Galgorm have benefitted from this sort of approach as they retain an exclusive experience without excluding anyone.
This week as the public descends on the course and estate we see what golf can be, a popular, international, family, community sport which allows the club to win. So the key issue with the clubs is which ones are willing, or might be in the future, to generate additional revenue from participating in the golf tourism market, and to increase access to their facilities as part of a strategic community engagement and membership programme as well as investing in the future in terms of their members and their facilities.
This week LEXXER Solutions will be Opening their doors to the golfing world, as they offer free consultations to clubs. As you experience what success looks like at Galgorm, come and speak to one of the team today to see what we can do for your club.