11. Conflict of Interest
Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust
Conflict of Interest Policy
Why we have a policy
Trustees have a legal obligation to act in the best interests of the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust, and in accordance with the charity’s governing document, and to avoid situations where there may be a potential conflict of interest.
The purposes of this policy is to protect the integrity of the Trust’s decision-making process, to enable our stakeholders to have confidence in our integrity, and to protect the integrity and reputation of the Trustees.
Conflicts of interests may arise where an individual’s personal or family interests and/or loyalties conflict with those of Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust. Such conflicts may create problems. They can:
• inhibit free discussion;
• result in decisions or actions that are not in the interests of Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust;
• risk the impression that Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust has acted improperly.
The aim of this policy is to protect both the Trust and the individuals involved from any appearance of impropriety.
This policy is meant to supplement good judgment, and Trustees should respect its spirit as well as its wording.
The declaration of interests
Nevertheless, the Trust needs to find a balance between accountability and unwarranted intrusion into the affairs of the Trustees. Therefore this policy needs to identify how conflicts are identified and managed. The most likely areas of conflict relate to the payment of Trustees and conflict of loyalties.
Accordingly, we ask Trustees to declare their interests, and any gifts or hospitality offered and received in connection with their role in the charity. A declaration of interests form is provided for this purpose, listing the types of interest you should declare.
Upon appointment each Trustee will make a full, written disclosure of interests, such as relationships, and posts held, that could potentially result in a conflict of interest. This written disclosure will be kept on file along with their Declaration Form and Application Form which is help by the Chair/Co-Chair.
To be effective, the declaration of interests needs to be updated by the Trustee when any material changes occur.
In the course of meetings or activities, Trustees will disclose any interests in a transaction or decision where there may be a conflict between the Trusts best interests and the Trustees best interests or a conflict between the best interests of the Trust and another charity that the Trustee is involved with.
If you are not sure what to declare, or whether/when your declaration needs to be updated, err on the side of caution. If you would like to discuss this issue, please contact the Chair/Co-Chair for confidential guidance.
This declaration of interests shall be used to record all gifts of a value over £20 and hospitality over £20 received by the Trustees, and recorded in the minutes.
Current Trustees will undertake completing the Declaration prior to 22nd May 2017 and then on a three yearly basis in line with each Trustees renewal as a Trustee.
The information provided will be processed in accordance with data protection principles as set out in the Data Protection Act 1998. Data will be processed only to ensure that Trustees act in the best interests of Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust. The information provided will not be used for any other purpose.
What to do if you face a conflict of interest
If you believe you have a perceived or real conflict of interest you should:
• declare the interest at the earliest opportunity
• withdraw from discussions and decisions relating to the conflict.
There are situations where you may participate in discussions from which you could indirectly benefit, for example where the benefits are universal to all users, or where your benefit is minimal. This action will be agreed by the Chair/Co-Chair and minuted accordingly.
If you fail to declare an interest that is known to the Trustees and/or Chair/Co-Chair the Trustees or the Chair/Co-Chair will declare that interest.
Decisions taken where a Trustee has an interest
After disclosure, Trustees understand that he/she will be asked to leave the room for the discussion and will not be able to take part in the decision. Any such disclosure and the subsequent actions taken will be noted in the minutes.
In the event of the Trustees having to decide upon a question in which a Trustee has an interest, all decisions will be made by vote, with a simple majority required. A quorum must be present for the discussion and decision; interested parties will not be counted when deciding whether the meeting is quorate. Interested Trustees may not vote on matters affecting their own interests. The Minutes Secretary should take special care to ensure that minutes or other documents relating to the item presenting a conflict are appropriately redacted for the person facing the conflict. A balance needs to be made to ensure that the person still receives sufficient information about the activities of the Trust generally without disclosing such sensitive information that could place the individual in an untenable position.
All decisions under a conflict of interest will be recorded by the Minutes Secretary and reported in the minutes of the meeting and this will be reported in the annual report and accounts in accordance with the current Charities SORP. The report will record:
• the nature and extent of the conflict
• an outline of the discussion
• the actions taken to manage the conflict.
Independent external moderation will be used where conflicts cannot be resolved through the usual procedures. The advice of the Charity Commission can be sought and the advice recorded in the Minutes. All steps to follow that advice will be recorded.
All Trustees of the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust will strive to avoid any conflict of interest between the interests of the Trust on the one hand, and personal, professional, and business interests on the other. This includes avoiding actual conflicts of interest as well as the perception of conflicts of interest.
Examples of conflicts of interest
These can include:
1. An applicant who is related** to a Trustee and there is decision to be taken on whether to give a grant.
- A Trustee who is also on the Board of Trustees of another charity that is competing for the same funding or where the other charity has formally supported an applicants application.
- An applicant who is known personally or professionally to a Trustee either in the present or in the past.
**A relative may be a child, parent, grandchild, grandparent, brother, sister, spouse or civil partner of the Trustee.
Date Adopted: 15th March 2017
Reviewed: January 2019
Charity Trustee Declaration of Interests form (England & Wales):
I …………………… as a Trustee of the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust have set out below my interests in accordance with the organisation’s conflicts of interest policy.
Please give details of the interest and whether it applies to yourself or, where appropriate, a member of your immediate family, connected persons or some other close personal connection.
- Current employment and any previous employment in which you continue to have a financial interest:
- Appointments (voluntary or otherwise) e.g. trusteeships, directorships, local authority membership, tribunals etc:
- Membership of any professional bodies, special interest groups or mutual support organisations:
- Gifts or hospitality offered to you by external bodies and whether this was declined or accepted in the last twelve months:
- Do you use, or care for a user of the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust services?:
- Any contractual relationship with the Social Workers’ Benevolent Trust:
- Any other conflicts that are not covered by the above:
To the best of my knowledge, the above information is complete and correct. I undertake to update as necessary the information provided, and to review the accuracy of the information on an annual basis. I give my consent for it to be used for the purposes described in the Conflicts of Interest Policy and for no other purpose.