Scottish charities to be more open with OSCR

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A new approach from Scotland's charity regulator will see more information about charities available online for the public to see

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1st February 2016 by Susan Smith 0 Comments

Scottish charities must now tell Scotland’s charity regulator if they are accused of fraud or are being investigated by the police or government agencies.

The new rule, which puts the onus on charities to proactively inform the regulator of significant events, is part of a fresh approach from the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) which will also see the annual reports and accounts of larger charities published on its website.

OSCR’s new targeted approach to regulation will come into effect on 1 April and will also include changes to the annual return form all charities are required to complete.

We have found over the past ten years that the great majority of charities operate as they should

The changes should mean less work for smaller charities but larger charities may have to provide additional information.

It will also mean that charities have an obligation to proactively inform OSCR of so-called notifiable events. These include fraud, allegations of abuse, investigations by other agencies and substantial donations from unknown sources.

OSCR’s head of engagement, Dr Judith Turbyne, said that the regulator’s new approach reflected the experience it has built up over the last decade.

“We have 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 now focus our effort on those areas that deserve our attention,’ she said. 

“As a public body, we’re tasked with being as effective and efficient as possible with the resources that we have. 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.”

The regulator said charities signed up to its online reporting service will find the changes easier to manage. Currently, 20% of Scotland’s 24,000 are not using online services.

The changes follow the biggest consultation the regulator has carried out with Scotland's third sector