Scotland has a resilient, diverse and innovative charity sector. There are over 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 touch on almost every aspect of life and it’s likely that all of us have benefitted personally from the work of a charity.
Charities also play a prominent role at a national level; bringing expertise, insight and challenge to national policy development and implementation. They are key partners in setting the agenda and delivering across the National Outcomes set out in the National Performance Framework. Without charities we could not achieve our ambition of creating a fairer and more prosperous country.
And only with public support can charities continue to make this impact. So it is vital that we do all we can to maintain, and increase, public trust and confidence in the sector.
From the 2018 survey by the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) we can see how much of an impact transparency and accountability have on levels of trust. For example, around 88 per cent of people said that seeing evidence of a charity’s achievements and knowing how much of their donation went to the cause would improve their trust in charities.
It is now over 13 years since the passage of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (the 2005 Act), which established the current regulatory framework. Over this time OSCR has shown its commitment to regulating in a pragmatic and proportionate way, balancing a widely preventative approach with strict enforcement where necessary.
Consequently OSCR has built up considerable learning about the framework, and – in line with its statutory advisory function – has proposed areas where the law could perhaps 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 time is now right to consider and consult on possible updates to the legislation.
We are seeking views from members of the public, the charity sector, and anyone with an interest in charity law. We want to learn from expertise and experience and hear first-hand about what really makes an impact on levels of public trust and confidence.
Following the consultation we will analyse the evidence and consider what options are available to us.
I would like to thank you for taking the time to respond to this consultation.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government
Email: Claire McHarrie