Finance News: Scottish charities slow to file accounts with new regulator

Barely half of the estimated 26,000 charities in Scotland have met a deadline to send their accounts to the nation's new charity regulator.

Only 13,345 had sent their details to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator by the requested date of 30 June. The OSCR is charged with creating an accurate register of charities in Scotland - 26,000 organisations were contacted at the end of April using the HM Revenue & Customs' index of charities.

Those with an annual income greater than £25,000 were asked to submit their latest set of accounts - others had to give their contact details and other information such as gross income.

But a spokeswoman for the OSCR said the regulator was not unduly concerned about many charities apparently missing the deadline.

"This is the first time people have been asked to send in accounts," she said. "Although we have passed the deadline, we would still be happy to receive them. The OSCR has not yet been formally created, so there is still plenty of time."

She said there was no actual cut-off point for charities to send in their details, but added that the regulator would be issuing a follow-up mailing in two weeks to encourage the stragglers.

As of 6 July, 14,056 charities had replied and a further 2,000 incorrectly completed forms had been received. The OSCR said its own estimate of the number of Scottish charities was 18,000, claiming it was therefore close to "creating as accurate a list as has ever existed".

But Leon Thompson, communications manager of umbrella group the SCVO, criticised what he called a "half-hearted attempt to gather information".

"We need to get a definitive statistic," he said. "The OSCR is the regulator and it must know who it is regulating."

But he added that the low response to OSCR's summons was "not hugely surprising", given that the HMRC index was old and that many charities would have moved or been wound up.

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