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Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

Charities criticised by regulator for failing to manage conflict of interest

This news post is over 1 year old

OSCR said there was a lack in clarity

Scotland’s charity regulator has criticised a leading charity for failing to manage a conflict of interest properly.

A report by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) found the Social Bite Fund failed to manage a conflict of interest when one trustee changed a draft agreement with The World’s Big Sleep Out Trust.

Both charities had come together to raise cash to help tackle homelessness and a contract was drawn up.

The trust was set up to operate a global mass participation sleep out event in December 2019 where several cities would participate worldwide to increase awareness of and raise funds for homelessness.

The charity successfully organised 52 events globally with 60,000 participants sleeping out on the same night.

OSCR opened an inquiry into both charities in 2020 when the board of the trust reported itself to the regulator.

The regulator said there was “a lack of clarity” in how trustees communicated with one another about changes to contracts.

However OSCR said it was an isolated incident that happened in 2019 and said that Social Bite had “changed and improved” its governance since then.

Social Bite has suffered a number of governance problems previously. Four of the charity’s trustees resigned on the same day in 2021 and a fifth trustee quit soon after.

Josh Littlejohn, its co-founder, resigned as a trustee of Social Bite in 2020 and a director of Social Bite Restaurants and Social Bite Limited in February last year and is now an executive director.

The charity welcomed the outcome, saying that it showed Social Bite “adheres to the highest standards of governance”.

Andrew Cubie, who became chair of trustees at Social Bite in 2021, said: “Over the past three years Social Bite trustees past and present have given considerable time to support fully OSCR’s inquiry and we are pleased with the conclusion that no recommendations are being made to the charity and no action is required.

“With only one finding by OSCR which relates to an isolated administrative error from four years ago, it found no wrongdoing, financial detriment to the charity or personal gain.

“Critically OSCR recognised former trustees took appropriate steps when they became aware.

“Finally, we are pleased with OSCR’s positive recognition of the proactive approach taken by both former and current trustees to the governance, reporting and communication of the charity, reaffirming that Social Bite adheres to the highest standards of governance.”