Charities (Regulation and Administration) (Scotland) Bill: island communities impact assessment

Island communities impact assessment for the Charities (Regulation and Administration) (Scotland) Bill.

Charities (Regulation and Administration) (Scotland) Bill - Island Community Impact Assessment

1. Objectives

The overarching aim of the Bill is to:

  • Promote greater transparency and accountability in charities
  • Enhance public trust by providing greater protection for charity assets and the charity brand through stronger enforcement powers
  • Improve the efficiency of OSCR’s operations
  • Address some gaps between charity regulations across the UK.

The impacts of the Bill will be on charities generally and the Scottish charity regulator (OSCR).

2. Data And Stakeholders

There are approximately 25,000 charities registered in Scotland. Around 1,200 of these are cross-border charities (registered both in Scotland with OSCR and in England and Wales with the Charity Commission).

OSCR’s data shows the number of charities currently operating on Scotland’s Islands by electoral ward;

1. Eilean a’Cheo: 131

2. North Isles: 97

3. Kintyre and the Islands*: 76

4. Oban South and the Isles*: 70

5. Steornabhagh a Deas: 69

6. Ardrossan and Arran*: 67

7. West Mainland: 59

8. Na Hearadh agus Ceann a Deas nan Loch: 45

9. Shetland Central: 43

10. Beinn na Foghla agus Uibhist a Tuath: 39

11. Shetland South: 39

12. Stromness and South Isles: 38

13. Shetland West: 37

14. Shetland North: 35

15. Barraigh, Bhatarsaigh, Eirisgeigh agus Uibhist a Deas: 34

16. An Taobh Siar agus Nis: 31

17. Sgire an Rubha: 30

18. Steornabhagh a Tuath: 30

Total count of Island Charities: 970

Of these charities the majority, 496, are in the lowest income group (£0 - £9999).

* - These electoral wards have been filtered by NRS Local Authority data to identify Islands only data

3. Consultation

Two full public consultations have been carried out in preparation for this Bill;

  • 7 January - 1 April 2019[1]: Considering OSCR’s proposals and the passage of time since the 2005 Act, The Scottish Government consulted on updating the legislation to promote transparency and accountability to maintain public trust and confidence in the sector and OSCR. The consultation was framed around OSCR’s 10 proposals. Over 300 responses were received, and the majority of respondents supported the proposals in the consultation, however the analysis report made clear that more policy development work and stakeholder engagement was required before we could bring forward any legislative changes.
  • February 2021[2]: A further consultation ran until Feb 21, asking specific questions on how proposals put forward by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) about improvements to charity regulation in Scotland could be implemented. over 100 responses were received plus feedback from a series of online events run in conjunction with OSCR, the Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) and the Association of Chief Officers of Scottish Voluntary Organisations (ACOSVO).

There were no responses in either consultation that specifically suggested that the impact of any of the proposals is likely to have a unique effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities.

4. Assessment

The assessment has identified only one area that is potentially problematic for Island communities, however, as discussed below this impact is already mitigated for through OSCR’s own processes and the work of the Scottish Government.

Although the proposals in this Bill will have the same positive impacts on the charity sector on the Islands as on the mainland, island communities can face many challenges when compared with mainland and urban areas. For example, the consequences of geography can create particular problems for island communities such as poor digital connectivity.

In recent years OSCR has undertaken to move all its services online. Their online portal is where the charity trustee register and submission of charity accounts will be handled. While this does, in effect, promote equality of access to all, particularly island communities, there may be barriers due to connectivity. OSCR have mitigated for this by ensuring that an option is available to those who would prefer not to use an online portal or face barriers to access. The OSCR Online portal asks whether a charity is uploading accounts or providing a hard copy. They report that they still encounter a significant number of charities that have capability to complete online returns but not to scan and attach electronic copies of accounts. Approximately 2,000 paper accounts are received by OSCR each year. These are scanned and uploaded by OSCR staff to the charity’s online entry which is then available to view on the website. If a charity is unable to complete the annual return form online, they can request a paper copy and OSCR staff will input the data online when it is returned.

The Scottish Government commenced work in 2022 to improve connectivity to island homes and business through the Reaching 100% (R100) North contract[3]. This project aims to ensure superfast broadband coverage to 100% of Scotland’s population. The goal of this stage of the project is to provide faster broadband capable of 1GB download speeds to homes and businesses on 15 islands;

  • Colonsay, Iona and Lismore in Argyll and Bute Council
  • Eigg in the Highland Council area
  • Eday, Flotta, Hoy, Rousay, Sanday, Shapinsay and Stronsay in Orkney Islands Council
  • Fair Isle, Unst, Whalsey and Yell in Shetland Islands Council

This work is being carried out as part of Scotland’s Full Fibre Charter[4] which pledges to help extend full fibre broadband across the whole of Scotland. The ability for remote and island communities to access full fibre, fast and reliable internet will mitigate the potential risk that Island communities could face accessing OSCR’s online systems.

A full Islands Community Impact Assessment is Not required

In preparing the ICIA, I have formed an opinion that our policy, strategy, or service is Not likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities (including other island communities).

ICIA is not required as the Bill is not likely to have an effect on an island community which is significantly different from its effect on other communities. The impacts of the Bill will be on charities generally and the charity regulator (OSCR). Mitigations are in place already to ensure full parity of the islands will other parts of Scotland.

The overall aim of the Bill is to strengthen and update the current legislative framework for charities registered in Scotland and broadly focuses on increasing transparency and accountability to maintain public trust and confidence in charities and improve OSCR’s powers to deal with misconduct. The Bill does not seek to revisit the fundamental principles of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (2005 Act).

Screening ICIA completed by (name)

Caroline Monk


Charity Law Team Leader

Signature and date

31 August 2022

ICIA authorised by

Jane O’Donnell


Deputy Director

Community Empowerment, Reform and Governance

Signature and date

Jane O’Donnell

14 September 2022



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