Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator invites feedback on draft guidance for the charity test

The Scottish regulator is proposoing updates to the guidance for the first time since 2008

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

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator is calling for feedback on new draft guidance on the charity test.

The regulator said the guidance, called Meeting the Charity Test, was being updated for the first time since 2008 to make it easier to navigate and understand.

The guidance can be viewed as a single document or as a series of individual web pages, each covering different sections. The OSCR said the draft had a less formal tone and included case study examples.

When it drew up the draft, said the OSCR, it took into account lessons learned from its review of the charity status of all of Scotland’s fee-charging schools and a report it produced on the independence of arm's-length external organisations from the local authorities that set them up.

But it said that the basic principles contained in the guidance had not changed.

Martin Tyson, head of registration at the OSCR, said: "Our draft updated guidance focuses more clearly on what’s expected of charities and highlights some of the common issues we have identified with applications for charity status.

"While the underlying principles of the guidance haven’t changed, what we’ve tried to do is set out in a more straightforward way what applicants must think about, so that they meet the charity test."

John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, welcomed the review but called for a broader rethink of the charity test itself.

"The SCVO would welcome a review that reconsiders the charitable status of local authority arm’s-length external bodies and private schools," he said.

"However, the OSCR’s intention to update this important document is encouraging. The additional guidance on what constitutes a charitable purpose, improved definitions of concepts such as public benefit and the inclusion of case studies will hopefully bring greater clarity to the charity test for trustees and people who set up charities."

The consultation runs until 26 May. The final version of the guidance is due to be published in the summer.

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