Charities with no clear link to Scotland could be taken off the country's register

A consultation by the Scottish government proposes giving the Scottish regulator the power to remove charities from the register if they do not have a clear connection with the country

Scottish parliament (Photograph: Getty Images)
Scottish parliament (Photograph: Getty Images)

Charities without a clear connection to Scotland could be removed from the Scottish charity register under new proposals put forward by the Scottish government.

In a consultation that opened yesterday, the Scottish government suggested that charities registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator should "have and retain a connection to Scotland".

The consultation paper says that there is currently no requirement for any charity registered in Scotland to have any activities in the country or any Scottish trustees.

The paper claims this would make it more difficult for the OSCR to regulate those charities without obvious links to Scotland.

The proposals would therefore prevent charities from being registered in Scotland if they were established outside Scottish law, managed or controlled "wholly or mainly" outside of Scotland, do not carry out activities within "any shop or similar premises in Scotland" and do not occupy land or buildings in the country.

The consultation says the new proposals would not prevent charities from registering in Scotland and in England and Wales.

Scottish charities could be forced to publish their annual reports and accounts in full on the Scottish charity register, the consultation says.

This would bring the country’s charity law in line with that in England and Wales and end the OSCR’s practice of redacting charity accounts for data-protection reasons.

The consultation also proposes allowing the OSCR to remove charities from the register if they repeatedly fail to submit annual reports and accounts.

An internal database and external register of charity trustees in Scotland could be created, and the consultation proposes extending the English and Welsh criteria for disqualifying trustees to Scotland.

The OSCR could also be allowed the power to direct charities to manage conflict of interests effectively, take specific action in line with their governing documents and appoint additional trustees.

This would give the OSCR the same powers afforded to the charity regulators in the rest of the UK, the consultation says.

It adds that the OSCR should be granted powers to investigate organisations misrepresenting themselves as charities and organisations that used to be on the Scottish charity register.

The consultation will run until 1 April.

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