The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator received 25 per cent more concerns about charities in the year to March 2015 than in the year before, and opened inquiries into nearly three in five of those.
Newly published management information from the OSCR shows that 337 concerns from the public and referrals from other regulators were received in 2014/15, up from 267 in 2013/14. March 2015 was the month in which the regulator received the most concerns – 40.
A spokesman for the OSCR said that it opened an inquiry – OSCR does not open statutory inquiries in the same way as its England and Wales and Northern Irish counterparts – into 56 per cent of the concerns it received, deciding that it was not appropriate for it to take forward the other 44 per cent.
The spokesman said 25 per cent of the concerns that became inquiries concerned what it classified as issues of "general governance". The next most common issues were service delivery (10 per cent of concerns investigated), misappropriation of funds (7 per cent) and external disputes or organisations being misrepresented as charities (both 6 per cent). Alleged criminal activity and fundraising issues accounted for 2 per cent of investigated concerns apiece.
The management information shows that the OSCR resolved 83 per cent of concerns within nine months, against a target of 75 per cent and the previous year’s 73 per cent.
The proportion of charities submitting accounts deemed by the OSCR’s criteria to be acceptable dropped by one percentage point to 80 per cent in 2014/15. The proportion of charities with OSCR online user accounts grew by 11 percentage points to 83 per cent.
The average time it took the OSCR to register charities rose from 60 days in 2013/14 to 63. The management information shows that 47 per cent of the 752 new charities registering in the year were Scottish charitable incorporated organisations, compared with 40 per cent of the 880 new charities in 2013/14.
But due to a number of charities being deregistered, the Scottish charity register shrunk by a net 47 charities in the year, having grown by 186 charities the year before, the data shows. As of Friday last week, 23,768 charities were registered with the OSCR.