OSCR announces commencement of targeted regulation
Christine Scott reports on changes to Scottish charity regulation.
From the 1 April 2016, charities will begin to see a few changes as OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator, implements its new approach to regulation.
- OSCR will begin to publish on its website the trustees’ annual reports and accounts of larger Scottish charities and all Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIOs).
- The annual return form completed by all Scottish charities will include changes to the type of information gathered, while the requirements for smaller charities will be kept to a minimum.
- A new ‘notifiable events’ procedure is to be introduced requiring charities to alert OSCR to matters such as fraud, allegations of abuse, investigations by other agencies such as HMRC or the Police, or substantial donations from an unknown source where these occur, or to confirm that they have not.
The changes have been made following a public consultation which concluded in March 2015 with the publication of its consultation report ‘Targeted Regulation of Scottish Charities: progressive, preventative and proportionate’
Dr Judith Turbyne, Head of Engagement at OSCR, points out that its new approach reflects the Regulator’s experience and will allow OSCR to focus its resources more effectively.
"We've found over the past ten years that the great majority of charities operate as they should, and we believe that the time is right to focus our effort on those areas that deserve our attention," she says. "Our new approach has been welcomed by the sector and will provide more information and transparency for the public, greater efficiency and impact for us as Regulator, and keep reporting requirements straightforward for smaller charities".
"From 1 April, charities will notice a change in the questions we’re asking on the annual return form, as we start to gather different information that will better inform our work and, ultimately, support public confidence in the sector," she adds.
‘If charities can do one thing to get ready, I would urge them to sign up for our online services if they haven't already done so.’
Currently 80 per cent of Scotland’s 24 000 charities complete their annual return and update standing information online. OSCR is keen for the remaining 20 per cent to sign up via the OSCR website as soon as possible.
OSCR will publish new guidance and support material for charities in due course, and work with local support organisations such as Third Sector Interface groups to help charities understand and adopt the changes.