Covid-19: Possible Liability and Insurance Trends

A collection of Public, HR, Insurance and Charity Sector articles that explore some possible risks and liabilities that local partners may want to consider as a result of the pandemic.

As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, there are concerns that legal and regulatory risks and liabilities will likely arise in both the mid and long-term as a result of the pandemic. We have drawn together a number of Public, HR, Insurance and Charity Sector articles that explore some possible risks and liabilities that local partners may want to consider in their capacity as employers and service providers.  

Disclaimer: This article does not serve as legal advice. Local partners should seek independent legal advice if they have any concerns arising from the issues explored within the article.

Situations resulting in possible prosecution or legal claim

In its recent briefing originally published in May 2020 and updated in December 2020, the Care Provider Alliance (CPA) looks at the potential risks and liabilities arising from the Covid-19 pandemic, and situations that may potentially arise resulting in prosecution or legal claims against a care service provider.

Long Covid

The long-term effects of Covid-19 on those who have suffered with the virus are still relatively unknown, and there is increasing evidence of people experiencing long-term health complications. These articles explore potential and known implications for employers and consider whether Long Covid could amount to a “disability” and the potential consequences for employers more generally.

Staff vaccination

As the Covid-19 vaccine programme rolls out, there are implications for employers and employees and potentially some challenges should employees refuse to have the vaccination. These are explored in an article by Stephens Scown, the HR Lawyers and providers of our HR Express service.

Long-term impact on employees

One of the most visible examples of the impact of Covid-19 on the workplace is the growth of remote working, yet the long-term impact of this is still relatively unknown. There is increasing evidence of adverse effects for employees that employers need to bear in mind in relation to staff working from home. People Management, a leading UK HR media brand, consider the negative effects on training employees, including new and/or inexperienced members of staff, who cannot be observed, taught, or learn with other colleagues in their organisation which in turn can impact career development. 

In a Lewis Silken, global HR lawyers, article from February 2021, they consider the long-term mental and physical health of employees, and if it has detrimentally affected their career development. Timewise, flexible working advocates and consultancy firm, explores the opportunities and risks of the increased take up of remote and flexible working caused by Covid-19, and explains how to build the more positive aspects into long-term strategies.

Insurers increasing premiums and introducing exclusions

The long-term effects of Covid-19 are concerning many insurers – particularly with regard to the potential for legal liability claims alleging that Covid-19 has been contracted due to the negligence of a policyholder. In its article last month, Civil Society looks at this growing concern and movement towards limiting Employer and Public Liability cover where insurance companies may exclude Covid-19 or pandemic-related claims at the point that policies come up for renewal, or hugely increase premiums for the sector in order to cover Covid-19 related risk.

Free HR support for local partners

For any advice and guidance on employment related matters, please remember that you can register for our HR Express service provided by Stephens Scown and receive free newsletters, updates, guidance and webinars that will explore the employment related aspects of the pandemic and how they might affect your organisation. They have been providing the partners that have registered with updates at each key point of the pandemic, including at each new version of the furlough scheme. They have also provided everyone they work with on HR Express with all the templates they have needed through the pandemic and around furlough.

For more information, contact Stephens Scown on: 03300 945314 or email: hre@stephens-scown.co.uk

Guide to Financial Scenario Planning

Following on from last week’s Finance Network Meeting, we have produced a short Guide to financial Scenario Planning which you can download below.

Last week’s Finance Network meeting, attended by 105 people from across the network, featured a presentation on ‘Forecasting in a time of uncertainty’, by Stuart Walker, an accountant commissioned by the Cranfield Trust. Stuart mentioned ‘Scenario Planning’ and spoke about the importance of this tool in forecasting – he also referred to a link to an article on the subject which was included on his final slide. For those who were not able to attend the meeting, we have produced a short Guide to Financial Scenario Planning which we hope will prove to be helpful at this time of planning and forecasting for the coming year.

Please click below to download the guide:

Upcoming Webinars

With the roadmap for emerging from lockdown now announced, click here to view a series of upcoming events to help you to prepare for recovery.

Charity Finance Group membership offer

Charity Finance Group (CFG) is offering organisations that join in March 2021 an additional month of membership for free.

Charity Finance Group (CFG) is offering organisations that join in March 2021 an additional month of membership at no extra cost – so for the price of an annual membership, you would become a member until 31 March 2022. Charity Finance Group (CFG) helps non-profit leaders, finance managers and trustees to understand what’s happening in the world of charity finance. Membership aims to help you grow skills and expertise, be connected to peers so you can share learning, and access resources and support.

As a member:
  • You’ll receive help and support through the CFG membership community;
  • Have your say on vital policy issues and campaigning work as CFG fights for a better operating environment for the sector;
  • Have access to free members’ meetings and special interest groups which take a deep dive into sector and finance function issues;
  • Access resources and member-only publications including popular member benefits Finance Focus monthly magazine and recently published Guide to Gift Aid;
  • Get free advice through expert helplines on key topics ran by CFG corporate members;
  • Save money with member discounts and build your CPD through CFG’s comprehensive events and training programme which helps you to network and stay and up-to-date on developments in the sector.

Find out more about CFG member benefits and how to join at: www.cfg.org.uk/joinus

CFG Small Charities Bursary

CFG is also offering a Small Charities Bursary and small charities which have been financially impacted by Covid-19 can alternatively consider applying for a year of free membership through the CFG Small Charity bursary scheme, available through the kind support of The Garfield Weston Foundation. The bursary scheme has limited availability so early application is recommended.

Find out full details here.

Upcoming webinars: Preparing for recovery

With the roadmap for emerging from lockdown now announced, here are a series of upcoming events to help you to prepare for recovery.

Although we are all still responding to the pandemic, there is now a roadmap for coming out of lockdown and our organisations are having to think ahead to the next financial year and beyond – forecasting, planning and preparing for recovery. With that in mind, Age UK is planning a series of events to help you prepare for recovery.

Whatever the individual position of our organisations, it is clear we will be stepping out into a different world, where the needs and immediate priorities of older people and their carers will have changed; new organisations will have identified market opportunities and become our competitors; the ways in which we deliver some of our operations and services may no longer be appropriate and will need to change to be relevant for the future.

We also know that recovery can be a time of high risk for organisations, where careful assessment and planning is needed to ensure ongoing sustainability and survival.

Take a look at our upcoming events to help you prepare for recovery below. You can book your place for the first webinar now, find out all the details here. Further information about the later workshops, including how to sign up will follow but we hope this helps in terms of getting the dates in your diaries. Please invite colleagues as appropriate.

EventWhat this will coverDateSuggested Audience
Building Back Better – how to survive the recovery phase.

Teams Webinar
The end of lockdown / easing of restrictions will bring many opportunities to restore services but the recovery phase of any economic cycle also brings increasing risks and is unfortunately the time when many businesses fail.

This session will explore future prospects for the network and discuss the key issues for our organisations to consider.

Click here to book your place.
10 March

11am – 12.30pm
Chairs, trustees, CEOs and Finance Managers
Finance Network – ‘Opportunities, risks and considerations for the recovery’

Teams Webinar
Complementing the 10 March event, this will focus more directly on issues affecting Brand Partners:

The return of income streams
The future of sustainable service delivery
The cost of change (and of not changing)
From crisis mode to strategic financial planning.

Sign up details to follow.
24 March

Time TBC
CEOs, Chairs, Treasurers, and Finance Managers.
Engaging with your local health systems

Teams Events
Changes within local health systems could present new opportunities for the network. We will be running a series of events to help you hear directly from health colleagues, find out more and explore these opportunities.

Sign up details to follow.
31 March

4pm – 5pm

Further workshops to follow in April
CEOs, service managers.

Useful Resources

In addition, we will continue to make resources available to help you adapt existing services or develop new ones. These include:

Please speak with your Service Managers to explore how you could make the most of these opportunities and help them engage with your Finance Managers to identify the costs and get your pricing right.

We will also continue to involve you in the development of our network infrastructure programmes, helping you engage with systems that should do more for your organisations and introduce efficiencies. For more information visit: The Network Infrastructure Hub.

We will regularly post links to resources that you might find helpful on this site and if there’s anything you would like us to cover, please let us know through contacting COVID-19EnquiryLine@ageuk.org.uk

Upcoming Webinar: Building Back Better – How to survive the recovery phase

Age UK are running a webinar to look at the future prospects for the network on Wednesday 10 March from 11:00 to 12:30.

As we look forward to the spring with the planned end of lockdown and the gradual re-opening of shops and leisure activities, we should start to consider what this will mean for our services. After a long period of forced hibernation and the largest drop in recorded GDP, the hope is that we will see a rapid bounce-back for the economy, with a surge in activities. This will bring with it many opportunities for us to restore services but it will also be a time of increased competition, particularly for funding.

The recovery phase of any economic cycle brings with it increasing risks and unfortunately it is the time when many businesses fail. With that in mind, we are running a webinar to look at the future prospects for the network on Wednesday 10 March from 11:00 to 12:30. The primary intended audience is Chairs and trustees, but all CEOs and FDs are warmly invited to attend.

This webinar will be led by Steve Billot. Steve has been working closely with the network for the last few years and having visited over 60 local Age UKs, has a real understanding of the issues we face. He lectures at Cass Business School on their Masters Course on Charity Management and was formerly an Insolvency Practitioner. He has seen many business cycles during his career and will share with us his thoughts on what the next 12-18 months are likely to bring to the charity sector and particularly to Age UK.

This session will have an interactive element where you will be able to ask questions and participate in a general discussion.

This is a Webinar not to be missed! Please register your wish to attend by emailing David Chenery or John Fox at Age UK. The Webinar will be via Microsoft Teams and full joining instructions will be sent towards the end of the preceding week.

Book your place at the February Finance Network Meeting

There are still places available for next week’s Finance Network Meeting, find out how to book your place.

There’s still time to book your place at the next virtual Finance Network Meeting on Wednesday 24th February from 11:00 until 12:30. To secure your place in this meeting, please email either John.Fox@ageuk.org.uk or David.Chenery@ageuk.org.uk as soon as possible. We will send you the link to the meeting nearer the time.

The topic will be ‘Forecasting in a time of uncertainty’ which has surely never been more relevant than now, given the ongoing pandemic restrictions and the fact that despite the encouraging progress of the vaccination rollout, we still have no clear timescale or understanding of how we will all begin to emerge from the present lockdown measures. Just how do you forecast when there are so many unknowns?

The session will be led by Stuart Walker, a charity accountant commissioned by Cranfield Trust and we’re looking forward to a very interesting presentation. It will include a Q&A session, so please be ready for the opportunity of asking ‘live’ questions.

To secure your place in this meeting, please email either John.Fox@ageuk.org.uk or David.Chenery@ageuk.org.uk as soon as possible. We will send you the link to the meeting nearer the time.

February Finance Network Meeting

The next Finance Network Meeting will take place on 24th February. Find out how to book your place.

On 24th February, we are holding the next virtual Finance Network Meeting on Teams, from 11:00 until 12:30, to which we warmly invite all Finance Directors, Heads of Finance Department and Finance Managers, together with CEOs, Treasurers and other interested trustees.

The topic will be ‘Forecasting in a time of uncertainty’ which has surely never been more relevant than now, given the ongoing pandemic restrictions and the fact that despite the encouraging progress of the vaccination rollout, we still have no clear timescale or understanding of how we will all begin to emerge from the present lockdown measures. Just how do you forecast when there are so many unknowns?

The session will be led by Stuart Walker, a charity accountant commissioned by Cranfield Trust and we’re looking forward to a very interesting presentation. It will include a Q&A session, so please be ready for the opportunity of asking ‘live’ questions.

To secure your place in this meeting, please email either John.Fox@ageuk.org.uk or David.Chenery@ageuk.org.uk as soon as possible. We will send you the link to the meeting nearer the time.

“Good governance more important now than ever” – key messages from Charity Commission CEO

Read the key messages from Charity Commission CEO Helen Stephenson’s speech at the ICAEW Charity Conference.

In her recent key note address to the ICAEW Charity Conference 2021, the Charity Commission’s chief executive, Helen Stephenson reflected that the charity sector is still sadly not quite in the recovery phase and that the pandemic is still having a complex, varied and in some cases devastating toll on the sector.

She reiterated that in these different and challenging times, it’s more important than ever that charities are well governed, efficient and accountable so the legitimacy and status of charity is maintained and protected in the minds of the public. The Commission remains focused on its core purpose of safeguarding the ‘covenant’ between the public, charities and the state and being guardian of the relationship between the public and charitable institutions.

As such, their strategy is focused on being ‘open for business’ encouraging trustees, the public, whistleblowers and finance professionals to go to them with any concerns about how charities are being run. They’ve improved their system for charities to report serious incidents, introducing a new online form so they can follow up with charities more quickly.

They’re also doing more to emphasise the importance of good governance at this time and have recently launched a series of 5-minute guides for trustees – covering what they call the ‘core syllabus’ of charity management, spanning the basics that they expect all trustees to understand.

These are on the topics of:

Charity purposes and rules
Making decisions at a charity
Managing charity finances
Managing conflicts of interest in a charity
What to send to the Charity Commission and how to get help

To access all the guides, please click here. We suggest these would make good core content for any trustee induction pack.

To read Helen Stephenson’s full speech, please click here.

For any guidance and support in relation to governance issues, please contact our COVID-19 Enquiry Line: COVID-19EnquiryLine@ageuk.org.uk

Making Tax Digital Guidance

Guidance on preparing for the “Making Tax Digital for VAT” period which begins in April 2021.

Further to the recent VAT session at the Finance Network Meeting held in January, we thought it important to highlight that local partners need to be prepared for the Making Tax Digital (MTD) for VAT ‘hard landing’ period from April 2021. Additional Making Tax Digital for VAT (MTD) requirements will take effect from Thursday 1 April 2021. When HMRC first announced MTD, it was a two-phase process.

  • Phase one: The first phase was considered a ‘soft landing’ period and came into effect from April 2019. Under phase one, businesses with an annual turnover of more than the registration threshold of £85,000, were required to submit their VAT returns electronically.
  • Phase two: The second phase was initially planned for April 2020, however, due to COVID-19 it was delayed for a year and will apply for VAT periods starting on, or after, Thursday 1 April 2021.

Crowe UK LLP has put together an alert on the important aspects and changes to MTD which companies need to be compliant with for the imminent end to the ‘soft landing’ period and start of the second phase, including:

• what is changing from Thursday 1 April 2021?
• digital links and phase two compliance
• compliance when using advisors and accountants.

For further information to ensure your processes are MTD compliant please click here.

They are also providing a free webinar on Monday 22 February 2021 from 14:30 – 15:30 where their VAT specialists will be covering all the important information to make sure you’re prepared for the end of the ‘soft landing’ period. You’ll also be able to take part in a live Q&A.

For any additional support, please contact the VAT helpline on 0207 842 7499 or email AgeukVAT@crowe.co.uk.

February Finance Network Meeting

On 24th February, we are holding the next virtual Finance Network Meeting on Teams, from 11:00 until 12:30, to which we warmly invite all Finance Directors, Heads of Finance Department and Finance Managers, together with CEOs, Treasurers and other interested trustees.

The topic will be ‘Forecasting in a time of uncertainty’ which has surely never been more relevant than now, given the ongoing pandemic restrictions and the fact that despite the encouraging progress of the vaccination rollout, we still have no clear timescale or understanding of how we will all begin to emerge from the present lockdown measures. Just how do you forecast when there are so many unknowns?

The session will be led by Stuart Walker, a charity accountant commissioned by Cranfield Trust and we’re looking forward to a very interesting presentation. It will include a Q&A session, so please be ready for the opportunity of asking ‘live’ questions.

To secure your place in this meeting, please email either John.Fox@ageuk.org.uk or David.Chenery@ageuk.org.uk as soon as possible. We will send you the link to the meeting nearer the time.

Finance Network Meeting – 24th February

A save-the-date for the next Finance Network Meeting on 24th February at 11am.

The next Finance Network Meeting will take place on 24th February, at 11:00 on Teams, when the focus will be on the critically important need for financial forecasting over the next 3 to 6 months. The Cranfield Trust will be supporting this meeting and they have commissioned a charity accountant who works closely with them, to present on cashflow forecasting, re-forecasting, and considering “what if” scenarios, given the uncertain future which we all face.

This meeting will cover the need to pay attention to costs and the allocation/apportionment of costs to projects, as well as knowing how to calculate free reserves, and consider the recognition of restricted and unrestricted funds.

We’ll be publishing further details of this meeting together with an invitation to register for it, in the next week or so but for now, please mark the date in your calendars, as this is an opportunity not to be missed.