Scottish regulator warns budget increase might not be 'sufficient'

06 Aug 2019 News

The Scottish charity regulator (OSCR) has warned that its recent budget increase might not be enough “to facilitate change”.

OSCR has been given a new £3.3m allocation for the coming year, which is an increase on the £3.035m cash budget which OSCR has operated within since 2013-14.

The regulator initially suggested this budget increase would enable it to continue working towards implementing a more risk-based approach to regulation, through the introduction of a central risk assessment triage function in casework activity.

Nonetheless, OSCR said until the 2020-21 draft Budget is published, it “cannot be sure that we will have sufficient resources to facilitate change delivery at the pace which we would hope for”.

To inform the development of the triage function, a pilot project focused on external concerns began in April 2019. Its evaluation will include consideration around the resource implications associated with rolling out the project, together with details of any associated delivery tools and process modifications required.

The new budget information was published in the Scottish charity regulator’s annual report and accounts for the financial year ending 31 March 2019.

OSCR's net operating cost for the year was £2.940m compared to a revenue Budget of £3.035m, resulting in an underspend of £0.095m.

Staff costs

OSCR cited its biggest cost as its staff. Costs relating to staff were at £2.115m with other expenditure at £0.815m.

It said: “As part of the Scottish Government Main Bargaining Unit, the determination of pay policy is outwith our control.

"The fact that our largest expenditure is in respect of an area over which we have very little input is challenging from a budget setting and planning perspective, and the lifting of the one per cent pay cap in 2018-19 prompted significant resource discussions by our board and staff”.

Results from the Cabinet Office, who run an annual UK Civil Service People Survey, showed an overall staff engagement level of 57 per cent for 2018, which was the lowest level ever recorded at OSCR. 

In its annual report OSCR stated: “When vacancies arose in 2018-19, we did not automatically backfill posts. This approach enabled us to take a more strategic overview of resourcing.”

But it added: “During 2019-20, a priority will be to provide staff with the clarity, skills and opportunities required to maximise their personal effectiveness and engagement.”

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