Call for common annual return for cross-border charities

OSCR consultation shows support for proposal

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator and the Charity Commission should produce a common annual return form for charities that operate on both sides of the border, according to respondents to a consultation on cross-border regulation.

The OSCR's proposed cross-border monitoring regime would require cross-border charities to submit an ‘information return' that will include headline financial figures relating to Scottish activities and summaries of those activities.

Just over half of the 133 respondents to the consultation, conducted in the autumn, thought the extra information required was reasonable, and only 13 per cent thought it was unreasonable. Most of those who thought it was unreasonable pointed to the difficulty of producing separate financial information for their Scottish activities.

Meanwhile, 40 out of 72 respondents to a question about what more the OSCR and the commission could do called for common documentation. Others called for charity law in England and Scotland to be more closely aligned.

Umbrella body the NCVO criticised the OSCR's approach. Its submission read: "Cross-border charities already have to contend with different financial thresholds and filing deadlines for the submission of their accounts under the Scottish accounting regulations. Given this lack of consistency, a preferable approach by the OSCR would be to minimise rather than increase regulatory requirements."

But the OSCR described the general tone of the responses as "very encouraging" and said it hoped be able to overcome many of the concerns by producing more guidance. The finalised strategy will be presented to the OSCR board in March and the new monitoring regime will begin in the spring.

There are currently just over 450 cross-border charities on the Scottish charities register.

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