Applications rising for Scottish charitable incorporated organisation form

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator says that almost 1,200 of the 23,775 organisations on its register are SCIOs

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator
Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is receiving more applications from organisations that want to register as Scottish charitable incorporated organisations than for any other legal form.

The SCIO legal form, which became available in Scotland in April 2011 for new registrations, means an organisation has limited liability without having to be registered with and therefore regulated by Companies House. Since March 2013, existing charities have been able to convert to SCIO status.

David Robb, chief executive of the OSCR, said in a statement: "Of the applications coming to us for charitable status, we now see more SCIOs than any other legal form, with a notable drop in companies limited by guarantee. The SCIO is flexible and clearly here to stay, and it’s good to see that funders and banks increasingly recognise that."

The regulator said that almost 1,191 of the 23,777 organisations on the Scottish charity register were SCIOs. Of those SCIOs, 894 were newly formed organisations, 55 were conversions from charitable companies and 242 had previously been other legal forms including trusts and unincorporated associations.

In England and Wales, registration for the equivalent CIO legal form has been open since January 2013. Of 2,678 new registrations by the Charity Commission so far in 2014, 1,068 were as CIOs.

In March 2013, Third Sector reported that a third of applications for registration with the OSCR had been for SCIO status.

The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations had its conversion from charitable company status confirmed last week after it floated the idea last year.

Lucy McTernan, deputy chief executive of the SCVO, said: "By becoming a SCIO and reporting solely to the OSCR rather than both the OSCR and Companies House, we’re confident that the SCVO is being regulated by an organisation that fully understands charities and the importance of protecting the public’s trust in the wider charity brand.

"This specialised structure for charities takes this into account and means that even the smallest charity can enjoy the benefits of incorporation, including limited liability, without having to comply with company law."

The SCVO has also announced a consultation on its future plans. It is asking member and non-member charities, and other stakeholders, what they think about its vision and outlook, centred on six themes: changing, connecting, promoting, society, economy and democracy. There is no specific deadline for responses, with the consultation document saying it will be open "for the next few months".

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