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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.

Scottish Government open to independent review of charity regulation


The announcement came in response to a parliamentary question lodged in Holyrood. 

The Scottish Government has said it is considering an independent review of charity regulation. 

Ministers have said work on the review, which is expected to be carried out in the remainder of the parliamentary term, is underway - with proposals on the process to be shared in due course. 

However, following repeated calls heard by the Social Justice and Social Security Committee during the scrutiny of the Charities (Administration and Regulation) (Scotland) Bill for any review to be independent, the government has now said that option is being considered. 

The confirmation came in response to a parliamentary question lodged in Holyrood by Paul O’Kane MSP. 

The West of Scotland representative submitted on January 19: “To ask the Scottish Government whether the review of charity regulation will be conducted independently of it.” 

Paul O'Kane MSP. Credit: Scottish Parliament TV

Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities of Scotland, Shirley-Anne Somerville, responded on January 30

She said: “Building on the recent passage of the Charities (Regulation and Administration) (Scotland) Act 2023, the Scottish Government has committed to work with the third sector and partners to develop the scope for a wider review of charity regulation.

“No decisions have yet been taken on how the review will be conducted. The approach will depend on the agreed scope, timescales and outcomes and all options, including an independent review, will be considered.

“My officials are currently working on proposals for engaging stakeholders which will ensure that all interested parties have the opportunity to contribute their views on the purpose and scope of the review. I will update parliament on our plans in due course.”

The confirmation has been welcomed by those representing Scotland’s charity sector. 

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) reiterated calls for a wider review of charity regulation throughout the passing of the Charities (Administration and Regulation) (Scotland) Act 2023. 

Representatives have now said they are encouraged by the Government’s consideration of an independent review, warning that the outcome of any work cannot be “crafted by government”. 

Kirsten Hogg, SCVO’s head of policy and research, told TFN: “It is encouraging that the Scottish Government has not ruled out the possibility that the forthcoming wider review of charity regulation may yet be independent.

“The need for an independent review was a major talking point during the legislative process for the Charities (Administration & Regulation) (Scotland) Bill, raised by stakeholders across and beyond the voluntary sector as well as SCVO.  This importance of the independent nature of the review was subsequently highlighted both in the Scottish Parliament chamber and in the Social Justice and Social Security Committee’s report on the Bill. 

“We know that there is a feeling within Scotland’s voluntary sector that, if this review is to be as effective and as beneficial as hoped, any recommendations that come from it must be independently set and not crafted by government.

"The voluntary sector has waited long enough to see the thorough, comprehensive, and holistic review of regulation that is required, and we would now expect the Scottish Government to enter future discussions on the scope of that review with a specific focus on the need for its independence and how this may look in practice.”



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