Five pages of annual returns could be cut to two under OSCR proposals

Scottish regulator begins consultation on charity reporting requirements

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has launched a consultation into simplifying its reporting requirements and enhancing its online charity register.

The OSCR's proposals, announced at its annual open meeting last week, would see the annual return that all Scottish charities have to submit cut from five pages to two. The supplementary monitoring return that the one-third of charities with incomes over £25,000 must also submit will remain unchanged.

Jane Ryder, chief executive of the OSCR, said that after three years of operation the regulator held most of the basic information about charities and did not need them to repeat it every year.

The proposals would also see a charity's entry in the OSCR's online register include graphs of 'financial highlights' such as its income and expenditure over a number of years. The register currently includes only the most recent annual income of each charity. 

However, Ryder said the OSCR had ruled out posting a charity's full accounts and details of its trustees.

Other proposals include allowing charities to submit their documents online and a monitoring regime that would allow assessments of charities to look at a range of governance issues rather than focus solely on the Scottish charity test, as the OSCR's rolling review programme currently does.

The consultation process runs to 29 December and the OSCR will announce its final proposals next spring. The new reporting regime will come into effect in April 2011.

Fergus Ewing, the Scottish Government's Minister for Community Safety, spoke at the meeting. He rejected the call in June's Calman Commission report on Scottish devolution for the creation of common definition of ‘charity' and ‘charitable' across the UK.

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