Scottish charity law consultation is ‘tinkering around the edges’ says SCVO

Civil Society, by Kate Plummer

The government has only offered a “limited range of proposals” to reform Scottish charity law which amount to “tinkering around the edges”, SCVO has said as it calls for wider reform.

In a letter dated 10 April to the Scottish government, Anna Fowlie, the chief executive of SCVO, responded to the Scottish government’s recent consultation on charity law, accusing it of not going “far enough” and outlined updated proposals for reform.

“Whilst SCVO agrees that this is the right time to review Scottish charity law, we believe that the recent consultation has not gone far enough. We urge the Scottish government to reflect on these broader challenges and take the time needed to create a stronger foundation for the charitable sector in Scotland,” she said.

It comes after the Scottish government launched a consultation on charity law in January, proposing to increase transparency through mandating charities to publish their accounts, to provide more powers for OSCR, and to streamline the regulator’s operations.

Stakeholders had the opportunity to respond to the consultation until 1 April. There were 261 published responses.

Fowlie added that there was a lack of engagement of the voluntary sector before and after the consultation. Her other concerns included cementing public trust in the charity sector, making changed based on the changing social and political environment that charities now operate in, and redefining what public benefit means for charitable status.

Regulator should be accountable to Parliament

OSCR, the Scottish Charity Regulator should be independent of the Scottish government with its own powers to recruit staff, reporting to the parliament not government, SCVO said.

The regulator is a is a non-ministerial department and part of the Scottish administration and was established after the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.

“SCVO feels that OSCR should be independent of government,” Fowlie said.