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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.

Massive growth in charitable incorporated organisations

This news post is over 10 years old

Scottish charitable incorporated organisation (SCIO)legal status is more popular than ever for Scotland's charities.

Charities are increasingly using SCIO status over company status, Scotland’s charity regulator has revealed.

It's a simpler way of giving reassurance to people putting their time and effort into setting up and running charities that they have protection against liability - David Robb

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) registered it’s 1,000th SCIO this week saying demand from charities to apply for the legal status was increasing.

Chief executive David Robb said that it now saw more of these applications than any other legal form, and was outstripping applications for charities to become companies limited by guarantee.

Bright Stars Under Fives Playgroup in Galashiels was announced as the 1,000th.

The organisation was formed by a group of local parents concerned about childcare provision following the closure of an existing playgroup.

Robb said: "It's encouraging to see the SCIO legal form proving popular.

"'The SCIO was designed to help charities just like the Bright Stars Under Fives Playgroup.

“It's a simpler way of giving reassurance to people putting their time and effort into setting up and running charities that they have protection against liability.

“And, as the SCIO is a corporate body it also makes it clearer for people and companies dealing with the charity.

"Of the applications coming to us for charitable status, we now see more SCIOs than any other legal form, with a notable drop in companies limited by guarantee.

"The SCIO is clearly here to stay, and it's good to see that funders and banks increasingly recognise that," he added.

Pamela Gullen, chair of Bright Stars Under Fives Playgroup, said that charitable status was beneficial and would encourage others to support the initiative.

"We were keen to become a charity because, first and foremost, it would encourage us to meet certain reporting standards and ensure that we were well run. But it would also encourage wider involvement in our work and help us with funding applications," she added. "We've had a huge amount of support and guidance from the Scottish Borders Council, which is well disposed towards charities.”

The playgroup will open in August and has already submitted its application to the Care Inspectorate and applied for Big Lottery funding.

The charity will advertise its first employee vacancies this summer - a playgroup manager and play leader - and will look to involve parents in the running of the playgroup to ensure the appropriate adult to child ratio is maintained.

“In becoming a SCIO, our main aim was protection against liability,” Gullen added.

“We were aware of the previous playgroup's failure and were concerned it could happen to us. We are looking to employ staff and the council recommend SCIO status as the best option.

“We're not daunted by the reporting requirements and we're very much looking forward to the success and expansion of the playgroup.”

A brief history of SCIOs
SCIOs account for a third of all new applications for charitable status
The first SCIO was South Seeds SCIO based in Glasgow in 2011
The largest SCIO by income is Dundee Leisure and Culture, at £12.7m a year
The oldest to convert to SCIO is The Queen's Nursing Institute Scotland, registered in 1915