Concerns about charities in Scotland up by more than a quarter, according to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator

The OSCR's annual review also shows a fall in new applications for charitable status

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

The number of concerns about charities handled by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator increased by 26 per cent last year, according to the regulator's annual report.

The OSCR's annual review, published last week, says 337 concerns were raised in the year to the end of March 2015, compared with 267 in the previous year. 

The review says that, despite the increase, the regulator had beaten its 75 per cent performance target for handling concerns about charities, closing 83 per cent of cases within nine months.

It does not give figures about what proportion of those concerns led to the OSCR taking regulatory action.

The report says the OSCR granted charitable status to 752 new charities in the year to the end of March 2015, down from 880 in the previous year.

Applications for registration with the regulator also fell from 1,220 in 2013/14 to 1,092 last year. 

Like last year, nine bodies were refused charitable status, down from 17 in 2012/13.

The average time taken to make a decision on a charitable status application increased from 60 days last year to 63 in 2014/15.

The report also reveals that the OSCR’s annual budget had increased by £50,000 on 2013/14 to £3m.

The organisation’s running costs fell from £705,000 to £571,000 compared with the previous year, while property costs rose by £10,000 to £271,000 and staff costs went up by £62,000 to £2m. 

The review says the regulator's new website, which was launched in autumn  2014, and according to last year’s review was designed to feature simpler content, easier navigation and e-learning support for charities, had been rated good or excellent by 75 per cent of users.

In last year’s review, the OSCR said it was aiming to "actively promote our online services and aims to achieve a 100 per cent take-up by charities". It has made some progress towards that goal, with 77 per cent of charities registering for its online services, up from 72 per cent last year.

David Robb, chief executive of the OSCR, said it had been "a busy and productive year for the charity regulator".

He said: "In addition to increasing workload and still meeting our targets, we’ve also achieved increased efficiency and proactively engaged with the sector on key developments.

"Our work and impact, set out in our latest review, demonstrates how we reinforce the public’s confidence in charities and their work."

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