Section 1: Publishing annual reports and accounts in full for all charities on the Scottish Charity Register
25. All charities in Scotland are under a legal duty to prepare annual reports and accounts, which they then submit to OSCR. There is no legal requirement for those reports and accounts to be published on the Scottish Charity Register. If a member of the public wants to see a charity’s most recent statement of accounts, they can make a request to the charity directly.
26. Over the past few years OSCR has been implementing a programme of ‘Targeted Regulation’ – part of this is an effort to increase public trust and confidence in the sector by making more information about charities publicly available. As part of this programme, since April 2016 OSCR has been publishing the accounts of charities with an income over £25,000 and all Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIOs). This accounts for around half the charities registered in Scotland.
27. In order to comply with data protection legislation OSCR has been redacting all personal information from the accounts before publishing (including charity trustee names and signatures, photographs and the signatures and personal details of independent examiners and auditors). This potentially diminishes the utility and quality of the accounts, as well as being a significant administrative burden.
28. An option here is to give OSCR an explicit power to publish annual reports and accounts of all charities in full, including personal information (with the exception of signatures), on the Scottish Charity Register. This is consistent with other charity regulators in the UK.
29. When OSCR consulted on their Targeted Regulation programme in 2014, while a small number of concerns were raised over privacy, as well as the possibility of accounts being misinterpreted or used in an unscrupulous fashion, there were high levels of support among charities and other interested parties for the publishing of accounts. OSCR’s surveys in 2016 and 2018 on public attitudes to charities also found that the majority of respondents stated that open access to accounts would improve their trust in charities.
Question 1. On the Scottish Charity Register, should OSCR be able to publish charity annual reports and accounts in full for all charities?
Please explain in the box below your answer including any potential benefits/risks:
Question 2. Do you think there is any information in charity annual reports and accounts that should not be published on the Scottish Charity Register?
Please say what information you think should not be published in the box below:
Question 3. Do you think charities should be allowed to apply for a dispensation (exemption) from having their annual reports and accounts published in full on the Scottish Charity Register?
Please explain in the box below your answer (e.g. in what circumstances do you think a dispensation (exemption) should be allowed? Why you think a dispensation (exemption) should not be allowed?)
Email: Claire McHarrie