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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.

The next steps on charity law reform

This opinion piece is over 4 years old

After the consultation, cabinet secretary Aileen Campbell looks at where we go now with charity law reform

Scotland should be proud of its diverse and innovative charity sector.

There are more than 24,000 charities on the Scottish Charity Register, from grassroots sport and youth clubs, to health and social care providers, to national museums and galleries.

Charities also play a prominent role at a national level - bringing expertise, insight and challenge to national policy development and implementation.

The Scottish Government works hand in hand with many third sector groups, which touch on almost every aspect of our day-to-day lives, to deliver on our ambition of creating a fairer and more equal country, and of course, it is only with public support that charities can continue to make this impact.

Aileen Campbell MSP

The Scottish Government works with third sector groups to deliver on our ambition of creating a fairer and more equal country

Aileen Campbell MSP

It is well over a decade since the introduction of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, which established the current regulatory framework. Over this time the Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR) has built up considerable learning.

In line with its general statutory function to advise or make proposals to Scottish ministers, they recently set out a number of areas where the 2005 act could be improved to better serve the public and charities, with a focus on increasing transparency, accountability and trust.

In light of OSCR’s proposals and wider stakeholder views, the Scottish Government ran a consultation earlier this year to consider and consult on possible updates to the legislation.

Views were sought from members of the public, the charity sector, and anyone with an interest in charity law. The focus was to learn from the expertise and experience of others, and to hear first-hand what really makes an impact on levels of public trust and confidence.

We are grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to this consultation – more than 300 responses from individuals and organisations across Scotland.

This high level of engagement indicates wide and broad support for change. It also highlighted that further engagement and policy development is required to tighten up any legislative changes and that for some in the sector, it is time to consider a wider review of charity law in order to ensure the legal framework remains fit for purpose and meets current and future needs.

There was also a specific call for a review of regulations about the winding up, insolvency and dissolution of Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIOs). We will address this by bringing forward amendment regulations in this parliamentary session to preserve public trust in the SCIO model.

We will also fully consider all of the points raised in the consultation and work closely with the sector and others as we progress the next phase of this work, to ensure we continue to do all we can to maintain and increase public trust and confidence in our vital third sector.

Aileen Campbell MSP is cabinet secretary for communities and local government.

This blog also features in July’s issue of TFN magazine, which includes much more exclusive content. To subscribe, click here.