Section 2: An internal database and external register of charity trustees
30. There are over 24,000 charities in Scotland and it is estimated that there are over 180,000 charity trustees. Charity trustees are the people who have general control and management of the administration of a charity, and have legal duties relating to ensuring that the charity works to achieve its purposes.
31. At present OSCR holds limited information on Scotland’s charity trustees. The law only requires the Scottish Charity Register to set out the principal office of the charity or the name and address of one of its trustees. Charity accounts also list trustee names, but these can become out of date.
32. Actively obtaining trustee details from all charities could give OSCR valuable and relevant information to better support effective regulation of charities and their trustees, through improved compliance, investigation and engagement work.
33. One option is to require OSCR to establish a new register of trustees. This could comprise an internal database for OSCR’s use only and a reduced external register for public use.
34. As well as current trustees, such a register could include the names of any person removed as a trustee following an inquiry by OSCR under the 2005 Act or preceding legislation.
35. As well as trustee names, an internal database could include, for example, dates of birth (for identification purposes), home addresses and email addresses.
36. The external register could contain trustee names (including removed trustees) and a principal office or trustee contact address against each charity entry.
37. Publishing the names of trustees on a public register, as is the case with charities registered in other parts of the UK, would increase transparency and accountability to the public.
38. The issue of developing a trustee database was explored in OSCR’s 2014 Targeted Regulation consultation and, while respondents did see benefits in terms of increasing transparency and supporting OSCR’s regulatory functions, others considered that the risks outweighed the benefits. Most concerns centred around the privacy of data, but there were also concerns that publishing trustee names on an external register might discourage people from becoming trustees, and that providing the information could create a burden for charities.
Question 4. Should OSCR be able to collect the trustee information noted above for use in an internal database?
Question 5. Should the names of trustees be published on the external public register?
Question 6. Should the names of trustees who have been removed following an inquiry by OSCR, be published on the external public register?
Question 7. Do you think trustees should be allowed to apply for a dispensation (exemption) from having their name published on the external public 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?)If you wish to explain any of your responses to the questions in Section 2, please do so in the box below. (e.g. setting out what information you think should be / should not be included on an internal database and external public register, and what you see as the benefits and risks of each proposal)
Email: Claire McHarrie