Queen's Speech 2015 - what it means for hospital radio

Today saw the Queen’s Speech opening the new parliamentary session. There are two bills that are most relevant to HBA and our members, both of which only affect England:

Cities and Local Government Devolution Bill

This Bill will see cities across England offered devolution, including the opportunity to take control of health and social care. This follows the "Devo-Manc" announcement in February of an agreement between the government and 10 Manchester local authorities.

Why it’s important to hospital radio

Such devolution offers service users (and the charities that support them) the promise of more integrated and flexible public services. This may have either positive or negative affects on individual hospital radio stations. On the other hand, such an ad-hoc programme of devolution could further complicate the situation for HBA, as we try to work out who we need to lobby and influence.

Charities (Protection and Social Investment Bill)

This Bill is the successor to the draft Protection of Charities Bill which was consulted-on and subject to select committee scrutiny in 2014, so it will probably go through Parliament without much fuss being made. It aims to provide the Charity Commission for England and Wales with additional powers to tackle abuse and deliberate wrong-doing in charities. A statutory power of trustees to make social investment has also been added. The Commission itself says that the new powers proposed to be granted to it are "vital".

Why it’s important to hospital radio

Additional powers for the Charity Commission to take regulatory action are always going to raise concern within charities, especially when the "mood music" is all about more-robust enforcement action against charities and their management. This is especially true in very small charities, run entirely by volunteers, and it is important that the changes do not impose greater burdens on these charities, or put-off people from volunteering to lead them. However, it is both important that all those running charities - including those sat on executive management committees of hospital radio stations - understand their legal responsibilities, and it is widely accepted that deliberate wrong-doing within the charity sector is extremely rare. In reality, these powers are unlikely to be used by the Commission more than a handful of times a year.