The Glen Urquhart Childcare Centre has become the first charity to convert to a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO).
SCIO legal status was introduced in Scotland in April 2011. Since then 215 new charities have been set up as SCIOs, but Glen Urquhart Childcare Centre is the first existing charity to change its status.
SCIOs are able to enter into contracts, employ staff, incur debts, own property, to sue and to be sued. The status means that trustees have more legal protection against personal liability and the charity is only answerable to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).
Arlene Johnstone, board director of the Glen Urquhart Childcare Centre, explained the thinking behind the decision: “We now have the reassurance of continued protection against personal liability, along with reduced reporting.
"As a company limited by guarantee, we were required to report both to Companies House and to OSCR as charity regulator. We accept as a SCIO there are new responsibilities, but reporting only to OSCR means that we can focus on providing our services to the local community,” said Johnstone.
The decision was taken by the charity following the introduction of a whole new board.
CIO status was first mooted in the Charities Act 2006 but is currently only available to Scottish charities. Plans are underway for the status to be introduced in England and Wales but its introduction has been delayed, with many blaming the Charity Commission, and the Commission in turn blaming Parliament.
In October it was announced that CIO status is likely to be introduced only for new charities initially in England and Wales.