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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

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.

OSCR urges all Scots charities to get ready for new obligations for next year

 

All charity accounts will now be published online

Scotland’s charity regulator will be publishing the accounts for all Scottish charities on the Scottish Charity Register from next year and is urging organisations to understand how the new requirement affects them.  

These changes reflect the Charities (Regulation and Administration) (Scotland) Act 2023 and aim to enhance transparency, accountability and public trust in Scotland’s charitable sector.

Parliament will decide the exact commencement date of this change early next year, but it is expected to be summer 2025.

Some parts of the Act, such as the Office of Scotland's Charity Regulator's increased inquiry powers, are already in place.

The register is a public record of all Scottish charities that displays information on their activities and its finances.

The financial information on the register is taken from an online annual return that charities submit to OSCR.

As part of their online annual return, every charity must send OSCR its charity accounts within nine months of their accounting ‘year-end’.

OSCR currently publishes accounts on the register with some personal information redacted for charities that fall within criteria based on their legal form and income.

All charities must already provide its latest set of accounts when someone requests them and they also have the option to publish more financial information on their own platforms should they choose to do so.

After the commencement date in summer 2025, the register will display the accounts OSCR receives for every charity, and over time it will ultimately display the latest five years of accounts. OSCR will no longer redact any information in the accounts prior to publication.

This change benefits both charities and the public. By publishing accounts, charities can demonstrate their financial stewardship, transparency, and effectiveness.

Donors, funders, and the wider public will have easy access to financial information, allowing them to make informed decisions about supporting specific charities. .

A charity’s accounts submission also gives them the freedom to demonstrate their activities to the reader through a narrative.

After the change goes live next year, everything in the charity accounts sent to OSCR (including personal information) will be available for anyone to view on the register for at least five years. OSCR recommends that charities consider what information to include in this narrative before they start to write their accounts.

It is the responsibility of the charity trustees and not OSCR to make sure that the information a charity submits annually is correct and on time.

OSCR is currently in the process of upgrading their digital systems to accommodate the changes.

More information will be shared in the coming months, so please subscribe to the OSCR Reporter newsletter to keep up to date.

Martin Tyson, OSCR’s head of regulation and improvement, said: “Transparency in charities is a key priority for OSCR.

“The register lets the people who fund charities see how their contributions make a difference and ensures that charities are accountable to the public. Making more information available, increases accountability and makes people more confident in giving.

“This helps charities attract more support and achieve their mission more effectively.

“If you are a trustee of a Scottish charity, work with your board members to make sure the information you supply OSCR with is accurate, uses people’s personal information appropriately and meets the criteria relevant to you.

“If you need any support, OSCR has a range of guidance on its website so you can get it right.”

 

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