Charities are concerned about how the new legislation will work in practice
Holyrood is planning to strengthen charity legislation in Scotland by increasing OSCR’s legal powers and improving transparency and accountability.
The bill is currently being scrutinised by the Scottish Parliament’s Social Justice and Social Security Committee.
However, evidence presented to the committee revealed that charities are unsure about how the legislation will work in practice.
The committee felt that the bill’s provision relating to the issuing of positive directions was an example of this. Its report asks that guidance is provided to the sector on how this will be implemented.
Similarly, the Committee felt clarity was needed regarding how OSCR intends to recruit interim trustees.
There was also confusion about undischarged bankruptcy. Although this is an existing criterion for trustee disqualification and is not one of the new criteria introduced by the bill, evidence the Committee heard indicated witnesses needed more clarity about this.
The committee’s report therefore calls on OSCR to clarify the position to the sector.
During evidence, Rami Okasha from CHAS (Children’s Hospices Across Scotland), told the Committee that more information is needed about how the provisions of the Bill will be implemented.
They said: “…OSCR will need to provide detailed guidance in quite a number of areas about how it intends to use those powers through the publication of its regulatory policies so that there is transparency and understanding between the regulator and charities about how the powers will work in practice.”
The report also outlines some concerns that the committee has with OSCR’s power to appoint interim trustees.
Volunteer Scotland told the Committee that they weren’t sure how this would be done, adding that in the "current climate... trustees are a bit like gold dust". The committee’s report asks OSCR how it plans to recruit interim trustees and how disputes about appointments of such trustees could be resolved.
Collette Stevenson MSP, Convener of the Social Justice and Social Security Committee said: “The Committee’s scrutiny has shown that this legislation will help support the regulation of charities in Scotland and that the sector and wider public will benefit from increased transparency and accountability.
“We would like to hear more from the regulator about its plans to communicate the changes introduced by the Bill. Too often the committee heard that organisations were unsure about how the changes the Bill makes would impact them.
"I want to thank all those who submitted evidence to the Committee, as well as those representing different aspects of society including the third sector, designated religious charities, law, accountancy and audit who gave oral evidence. Their insight has been invaluable."