The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has recently published a report to help charities understand and address potential issues in meeting the requirements of charitable status.
The report is a summary of its reviews over the past six years to guide charities and inform the public.
“As we develop our reviews for the future, this new report provides a summary of our experience and we hope it will be a useful reference document for charities on key aspects of regulation and governance,” said David Robb, OSCR Chief Executive. “The report also demonstrates our impact as a public body, reassuring the public that Scotland's charities are meeting the requirements of the law. We are keen to assist charities in meeting those requirements, and in addition to our guidance material, this new report sets out some key points and real-life examples that will illustrate the issues we consider.”
All charities in Scotland must meet the 'charity test' set out in legislation, demonstrating that they have charitable purposes, provide public benefit and meet other legal requirements.
Since April 2006, all applications for charitable status in Scotland have been assessed by OSCR against this requirement, with some 4,949 granted charitable status on this basis. The new report explains how the Regulator reviewed existing charities in specific 'priority groups' where it felt issues may exist as to whether the test was met - for example, fees, private benefit, or control by other bodies or Ministers.
Based on its experience to date, OSCR has determined that there is no need for a full scale review of charities in the Scottish Charity Register, although it has powers to review any charity. Going forward, OSCR states that it will focus its reviews on those types of charity where there seems to be the greatest likelihood of difficulty in complying with the requirements of charity law. The basis for its reviews will be broader, covering a range of regulatory issues including governance and an emphasis on international charities.
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