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Charity law review opens with consultation

7 January 2019

Options to change the current system of regulating charities in Scotland have been set out by ministers in a new consultation.

The exercise follows proposals put forward by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), which broadly focus on improvements to charity law that would increase transparency and accountability in order to maintain public trust and confidence in charities and OSCR. The Scottish Government is seeking views from members of the public, the charity sector, and anyone with an interest in charity law.

The present law, in the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, has been in place for more than 13 years, and is based on the McFadden report which is now 17 years old. Given the passage of time since the Act was passed, and the changing environment that charities are operating in, ministers believe the time is right to check how well the current arrangements are working and explore potential improvements.

Topics covered by the consultation include:

  • an external register of charity trustees;
  • publishing annual reports and accounts in full for all charities on the Scottish Charity Register;
  • revised criteria for automatic disqualification of trustees and senior managers;
  • a power in OSCR to issue positive directions to charities;
  • 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;
  • a power in OSCR to inquire into bodies that are no longer charities;
  • use of assets by bodies that are no longer charities;
  • revised information gathering powers for OSCR;
  • reorganisation of charities established under royal charter, warrant or enactment.

Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell commented:

"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."

Click here to access the consultation. The closing date for responses is 1 April 2019.

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