The Scottish government has launched a consultation on charity law that includes proposals to give the regulator greater enforcement powers and require all registered charities to publish their accounts.
There are three main aspects to proposed reforms: increasing transparency, providing more powers for OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator, and streamlining the regulator’s operations.
It has been 13 years since the passage of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 and proposals for reforms were put forward by OSCR last year.
Options in the consultation include:
- An external register of charity trustees
- Publishing annual reports and accounts in full for all charities on the Scottish Charity Register
- Removal of charities from the Scottish Charity Register that are persistently failing to submit annual reports and accounts and may no longer exist
- All charities in the Scottish Charity Register to have and retain a connection in Scotland
Consultation documents are available online and people have until 1 April to respond.
‘Maintain and increase public trust’
The government said that one of the main drivers of the proposed reform was to “maintain and increase public trust” in the charity sector.
Communities secretary Aileen Campbell said: "Charities play a vital role in our society, from supporting individuals and communities, to informing policy at a national level, they are key to us achieving our ambition of creating a fairer and more prosperous country.
"It is therefore important that we do all we can to maintain and increase public trust and confidence in the charity sector and making sure legislation supports that. I would encourage anyone with an interest in the charity sector to share their views by responding to this consultation."
OSCR is ‘delighted’
David Robb, chief executive of OSCR, said: “We are delighted that the Scottish government have launched this consultation. The proposals reflect our experience of working with the 2005 Act over the past 13 years and seek to improve the legislation rather than rewrite it.
“We urge charities and other stakeholders to read the consultation and give your views to government so that the regulator can continue to work effectively with trustees to underpin public trust and confidence in Scotland’s 24,400 charities.”
SCVO: 'Missed opportunity'
Anna Fowlie, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) said: “While SCVO welcomes the opportunity to review charity law and encourages third sector organisations to have their say in the Scottish Government’s consultation, we think there are some major missed opportunities here to better define what modern charities are. While there is already a high level of trust in charities in Scotland, it’s important that we ensure charities remain accountable through up to date regulation which considers new developments in technology, society and constitutional change.”