Measures will increase transparency and maintain public trust.
Proposed legislation to update and strengthen charity law has passed its first parliamentary stage.
MSPs have voted to support the general principles of the Charities (Regulation and Administration) Bill which improves accountability and transparency of charities and increases the powers of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).
Welcoming Parliament’s unanimous support at Stage 1 of the Bill, Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville said:
“Our focus is to ensure the best possible conditions for the sector, which plays a vital role in our society, to thrive.
“Current charity law is now over 17 years old and the sector has changed significantly in that time. That is why we want to strengthen, modernise and improve charity regulation to ensure it meets the needs of charities.
“Scottish charities have a combined income of £14 billion each year so it’s crucial the way they are regulated remains fit for purpose.
“Charities are widely supported by the public. Trust in them and what they deliver is high, and we want to keep it that way.”
The Charities (Regulation and Administration) (Scotland) Bill is a 2022-23 Programme for Government commitment.
Provisions in the Bill include:
- updating the criteria for the automatic disqualification of charity trustees and extending it to individuals with specific senior management positions in charities
- removal from the Scottish Charity Register of unresponsive charities that fail to submit statements of account.
- a requirement for all charities in the Scottish Charity Register to have and retain a connection to Scotland.
- a requirement on OSCR to publish the statements of account for all charities in the Scottish Charity Register.
- requirements on OSCR to include charity trustee names in the Scottish Charity Register, to keep an internal schedule of charity trustees’ details and to create a publicly searchable record of charity trustees removed by the courts.
The Scottish Government consulted on proposals put forward by OSCR in 2019 and consulted again on a number of specific reforms in 2021 and found a majority of support for the changes.
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