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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.

Scotland's charity regulator rolls out new powers


Laws have been strengthened and revised

Changes to Scotland’s charity are now in effect.

The 2023 Act now gives the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) the power to remove charities from the register that have failed to submit accounts on time and failed to engage with the regulator.

Charities must submit accounts to OSCR within nine months of their financial year end with OSCR saying that this month it will be notifying over 100 charities of the intent to remove them from the register.

Where any of these charities re-engage with OSCR, they will be expected to bring their reporting up to date in order to maintain their registration.

OSCR also has a number of new powers to help the regulator work more effectively to protect charities and their assets. They include: power to direct charities to take particular actions; power to appoint interim trustees; authority to inquire into former charities and former charity trustees; and the ability to require charities and others to provide relevant information.

There is also a stipulation within the new laws to refuse applications from organisations that have no or a negligible connection with Scotland.

To decide on this, the regulator will need to look at factors including whether the organisation has a principal office in Scotland, occupies premises or carries out activities here. Experience so far indicates that this will not be an issue for the overwhelming majority of applicants.

Most of these are SCIOs (Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations), which in any case have always required to have a principal office address in Scotland.

However, the new measure will ensure that OSCR can deal with issues where they arise with organisations applying under other legal forms. 

The requirement to have a connection to Scotland will apply to existing charities on the Scottish Charity Register from 1 October 2024, but OSCR is already in touch with the charities they are aware of that are likely to be affected to try to resolve the issues involved.

And OSCR will no longer ask charities to use its Notifiable Events process to inform it when something serious has happened to the charity.

It said the scheme was not always achieving its aims.

“We found that there were mismatched perceptions and expectations around the use of Notifiable Events, the responsibilities of charity trustees, and the role of OSCR in dealing with the issues raised,” OSCR stated.

It added: “If a charity trustee, staff member or volunteer tells us about an issue through our concerns form, we will assess this in the usual way. We will then determine if there is a need for OSCR to take any regulatory action, or if we need to provide further support and guidance.

“By ending the Notifiable Events process and instead receiving appropriate concerns through our concern form, we will be able to prioritise our resources more effectively, deal with important issues quickly, and ensure trustees are clear about what they need to do to ensure their charity is well governed.”



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