In its Programme for Government 2018-19, the Scottish Government includes a review of the 2005 Act stating that:-

“It is over 17 years since the McFadden Commission proposed establishing a Scottish charity regulator, and more than 13 years since the passage of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005. To ensure public confidence in charities and in the Scottish Charity Regulator is maintained we will consult on updating legislation to promote transparency and accountability.”

In its Annual Report and Accounts for the financial year ended 31st March 2018, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) states that:-

“In consultation with the Scottish Government Charity Law and Volunteering – Third Sector unit and their legal advisers, we have prepared an analysis of the most significant measure we would hope to address through legislation, and submitted it to Ministers in early 2018.  As things stand, OSCR’s powers, particularly in respect of collecting and publishing information about charity trustees, and the grounds for trustee disqualification mean that there is a potential for significant disconnect between expectations about the actions which the public would expect a charity regulator to carry out, and the actions we can legitimately take”.

The “collecting and publishing information about charity trustees”, relates to the redaction of personal information in sets of accounts published on the OSCR website as opposed to for example accounts published on companies house website which do not have any personal information redacted.  This is due to the fact that OSCR is not requiredto publish accounts of charities.

Legislation on the “grounds for trustee disqualification” will bring the position in Scotland in line with that in England and Wales.  There, section 9 of the Charities (Protection & Social Investment) Act 2016 extended the criteria for automatic disqualification from charity trusteeship and extends disqualification to senior management positions.  The new reasons which result in disqualification include:-

  • Being on the sex offenders register.

  • Unspent convictions for:

    • Offences relating to terrorism, money laundering and bribery,

    • Particular offences under the Charities Act 2011 for disobeying a Charity Commission order or direction; and

    • Offences for misconduct in public office, perjury, and perverting the course of justice.

We understand that the precise format of any consultation has yet to be finalised.  It must surely however reflect the importance of and the significant contribution made by charities in Scotland.

In addition to the foregoing, here are some other key sector announcements relevant to charities, the third sector and social enterprises. 

The sector is important

“The third sector is a crucial part of our social and economic infrastructure, playing a key part in the ongoing reform of our public services – without them we would not be able to innovate, adapt and maintain our drive to tackle deep-rooted social challenges in the way we are. That is why we continue to invest in the sector, and have made a point of maintaining our levels of funding within the third sector budget at £24.5 million.”

Non-Domestic Rates                                                                                                

“The Bill will deliver the ambition set out in the Barclay Review to enhance and reform the business rates system in Scotland to better support business growth and long-term investment and reflect changing marketplaces. Having already introduced the Business Growth Accelerator and Day Nurseries relief recommended by the Review, the Bill will include other measures to support growth including the move to a three year valuation cycle. The Bill will introduce measures aimed at improving the administration of the system including to reduce the number of appeals and improve the quality of information available to stakeholders. It will also deliver measures to increase fairness and ensure a level playing field by reforming a number of reliefs and tackling known avoidance measures.”

Safeguarding and disclosure

“To modernise and improve proportionality in the disclosure system we will introduce a new Disclosure Bill. This will simplify the system and strike the right balance between strengthened safeguarding and helping people with conviction get back to work. We will provide a digital way to improve safeguarding and access disclosures that is more responsive to Scotland’s people.”

Social enterprise

“Later this month, Scotland will welcome the Social Enterprise World Forum, marking 10 years since it was first held in Edinburgh. Social enterprises contribute £2 billion to our economy each year and provide jobs for around 80,000 people. They can be an exemplar of sustainable and inclusive economic growth. We will continue our work to maintain Scotland’s place as a world-leading social enterprise nation.”

Legacies and succession law

“We will also consult on a fresh approach to the reform of succession law.”

In October, the Scottish Government issued its response to its 2015 Consultation on the Law of Succession Response.

Third sector as a public service deliverer

“The success of [partnership with local government ], and future Programmes for Government, is rooted in the strength of our partnership with local government and the expertise and commitment of those communities and organisations delivering a wide range of services across the public, private and third sector.”

Housing provision and policy – beyond 2021

“Over the next 12 months, we will be engaging extensively with local government, businesses, the third sector, home owners, tenants and others to plan together how our homes and communities should look and feel in 2040 and the options and choices to get there.”

Creative and cultural sector 

“Working with its partners in the public, private and third sector, Screen Scotland will also develop a joined-up strategy for skills to support career development, meet future demand, and build on progress in supporting employers where there are skills gaps.”

“Culture, creativity, heritage, landscapes, languages and traditions express and shape who we are and who we want to be as a nation.”

Cyber security

“We want to ensure our people, businesses, charities and public institutions are protected, and to make Scotland a centre of global excellence for cyber resilience. To achieve this, we will continue to implement our cyber-resilience plans.”