Charities Conference

Our one day charities conference has been specifically designed for partners and senior managers with responsibility for a number of charity clients.

*If you are based in Scotland, please see our Scottish Charities Conference alternative.


Who should attend the conference

Mercia's Charities Conference is a must-attend event for any accountancy firms with Charity clients.

Through this one-day virtual conference, you will get practical advice about all the latest changes and challenges currently facing the charity sector. Hear from financial experts and charities on how you can add value to your clients.

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Full conference agenda

Helen Easton, Charity Commission

The regulator will provide a topical update that will include;

  • Updates on relevant guidance
  • Key updates on Commission work
  • Timetable for the next Statements of Recommended Practice (SORP)

Louise Dunford, LD Consultancy Ltd

This is a fast-paced review of the most important current issues in charity law. It will include some or all of the following, along with any important recent case law concerning charities;

  • Current challenges facing the sector
  • Overview of the Charities Act 2022 and practical implications
    • Changes to the rules on updating governing documents
    • New statutory powers to deal with failed appeals
    • Permanent endowment – a new definition and changes to the statutory powers
    • Revised regime for making ex gratia payments
    • Reform of rules in relation to advice on land transactions
    • Enhanced regulatory powers for the Charity Commission
    • Payment of trustees – the new rules
    • Authorised cost orders in Charity Tribunal proceedings
    • Which provisions are in force and what is yet to be implemented?
  • Administration of the Charity
    • Recent Charity Commission regulatory and status cases
    • Charity Commission guidance and alerts
  • Trustee matters
    • Powers of investment and responsible investing
    • How to identify and manage conflicts of interest
    • Potential personal liability of trustees

Phil Frost, Mercia Group Ltd

This session will cover ten common issues when dealing with charity accounts, including:

  • Fund accounting
  • Income
  • Grants
  • Fixed assets
  • Mergers
  • Going concern

Jon Sparkes, Bishop Fleming

An update on direct tax matters affecting charities including;

  • Dealing with non-primary purpose trading
  • Use of trading subsidiaries
  • Fundraising
  • Gift Aid
  • Employment tax

Chris Fyfe, Stroke Association

We are operating in unprecedented times, the cost of living crisis is having a direct impact on our fundraised income and house price stagnation is negatively affecting legacies and yet the number of stroke survivors requiring our support is on the increase. How do we set up our operating model and pricing structure to future-proof our organisation and ensure we’re here to support stroke survivors in the future? How can we make sure that our income goes further and we make savings wherever possible?

Neil Owen, VAT Advisory Services LTD

This VAT session will focus predominantly on HMRC’s recently issued new guidance on what is and is not a business activity for VAT purposes, with mention of other topical issues as time permits.

Peter Herbert, Insight Training

Charities courses and file reviews reveal lots of questions about presentation and disclosure and how to get them right. This session will focus on the most common areas of concern and how to ensure that disclosures are spot on. Topics covered will include:

  • Disclosure of transactions with trustees and related parties
  • Key tips and traps with Trustees Annual Reports
  • Accounting policies and going concern
  • Common problems for charitable groups
  • Important considerations regarding comparatives
  • Key differences between smaller and larger charities

Conference speakers

Helen Easton heads up the Operation Accountancy Team at the Charity Commission. The Team provides expert advisory support to the Commission’s regulatory cases and supports policy work that includes the SORP. Prior to working in the Charity Commission Helen has held multiple roles across Government Departments, previously working for the Competition & Markets Authority as a Financial Adviser and worked at HMRC where she headed up the Internal Audit Function for Finance’

Louise Dunford

Louise has been continuously involved in training and consultancy since 1987, both for professional firms and for commercial organisations. She also worked as an associate senior lecturer at the University of Portsmouth. Louise specialises mainly in aspects of practical employment law, company law and on professional negligence, and has published widely in leading academic and professional journals.

She is an associate of Complete HR Ltd, providing practical and pro-active assistance with employment and HR issues for SMEs.



Phil qualified in his home town of Sheffield. He worked for Financial Training for a number of years and was their midlands regional director before joining Mercia in 2001. He lectures to the accounting profession and to those in industry and commerce on accounting, auditing, and related legal and regulatory topics as well as specialising in charity and property accounting together with international accounting standards.

In his spare time, he now watches cricket and rugby as his playing days are behind him.



Jon is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Adviser with more than 25 years experience. During his career he spent 9 years with a ‘Big 4’ firm during which he was part of their Charities Network advising a range of national and international charities and not-for-profit organisations. He is now leads Bishop Fleming’s charity tax services working with their clients on tax issues such as non-primary purpose trading, setting up trading subsidiaries and Gift Aid. He has experience of working with a wide range of charitable sub-sectors including higher and further education, academy schools, independent schools, social housing, visitor attractions, hospices, sports and wellbeing organisations, the creative industries, charitable foundations and membership organisations.



Chris joined the Stroke Association in September 2019, and became Executive Director for Finance in 2020.

Chris oversees all aspects of the charity’s financial management and business support.

After completing his Chartered Public Finance Accountant qualification in his native Scotland, Chris has had a long career of financial management within development, humanitarian and environmental organisations across Africa and Europe. He was the Group Finance Director of an International Homelessness Charity and the International Finance Director of a major environmental NGO.

Chris recently completed an MSc in Development Management including research on the impact of education programmes on poor, disabled and marginalised girls in rural Kenya.

Neil Owen

Neil Owen is an independent consultant, speaker and occasional writer. He has specialised exclusively in VAT since 1984, when he joined HM Customs and Excise as a VAT officer. He entered professional practice in 1990, working for regional accountancy firms in the Thames Valley and Solent areas, before establishing his own VAT consultancy practice in 2007.

Neil has taken a close interest in VAT for academies for over ten years and continues to advise a number of clients in the sector, mainly MATs, on a regular basis

Peter Herbert

Peter qualified as a Chartered Accountant with an international accountancy firm before working in industry. He has over 20 years of training experience. He writes and presents technical updates for firms of accountants and qualified accountants of private and listed companies. Peter specialises in financial reporting, auditing and practice regulation. Peter also regularly carries out compliance reviews for firms of accountants which provides him with an invaluable insight into the practical financial reporting and auditing issues that they face.

One Day Conference
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Previous Charities Conferences

Explore the programme of our previous Charities Conferences:

2022 Charities Conference