New guidance on Scottish charity test

By Isabelle Bell

25 August 2015

Scotland's charity regulator has published new guidance to help prospective and current charities achieve and keep their charitable status.

The guidance, Meeting the Charity Test, is aimed at accountants who advise prospective and current charities, as well as the charity trustees of existing charities.

It explains what the Scottish Charity Regulator takes into consideration when deciding if an organisation can become, or continue to be, a charity in Scotland. The guidance also outlines how charities can stay within the rules on public benefit.

All Scottish charities must pass the 'charity test' – requiring organisations to have only charitable purposes and activities that provide public benefit – and be entered in the Scottish Charity Register.

Organisations will fail the charity test if:

  • Its governing document allows its assets to be distributed or applied for non-charitable purposes.
  • Its governing document expressly permits government Ministers to direct or control its activities.
  • It is a political party or one of its purposes is to advance a political party.

OSCR's Head of Registration, Martin Tyson, said: "'Our updated guidance features a range of case studies based on the type of scenarios we've encountered, to help applicants and existing charities to understand what's required of them, how we look at the charity test, and the issues that can arise. It should also help organisations decide whether becoming a charity is the right thing for them in the first place."

The updated guidance follows an extensive consultation process by the OSCR to improve the Meeting the Charity Test content and make it easier to use and understand.

The full guidance is available from the OSCR.


  • Charities

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