OSCR to change its reporting mechanism to be 'more risk-based and proactive'

In its report on a consultation about its work, the Scottish regulator says it will publish some charities' accounts online, develop a serious incidents reporting regime and create a trustee database

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

The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator will take forward plans designed to make it a "more risk-based and proactive" regulator.

The regulator said yesterday that it would do this by making changes to its annual reporting mechanism, through publishing charities’ accounts online and creating a serious incidents reporting regime and a trustee database.

The news was contained in its report on the near 400 written responses to a public consultation on its work, and its own proposals made after that consultation.

David Robb, chief executive of the regulator, said the changes would "make us more risk-based and proactive and will help to focus our own resources more effectively".

The OSCR said it would work to make charities’ accounts available online, initially by encouraging charities to publish them on their own websites, and later putting the accounts of charities with annual incomes of more than £25,000 on the Scottish charity register.

In addition, the OSCR will develop a new approach to monitoring charities that "will be more holistic in nature", the report says. "This should allow us to concentrate on sub-sectors and charities that are posing a higher risk to public trust and confidence, and allow us to be more proactive as a regulator," it says.

This tougher enforcement regime is also promised in a plan to "increase our resources and visibility in terms of tackling charities that are in default by persistently not submitting their annual returns and annual reports and accounts".

The OSCR will develop a serious incident reporting regime as proposed, but it will first do further work to clarify what incidents should count as serious.

It will also issue guidance for smaller charities on good practice around trustee annual reports, make more of its services available online and create a database of trustees of Scottish charities, but will not makes trustees’ details publicly available.

There will also be changes to the questions asked in the annual return; although the consultation proposed new questions, the OSCR has not confirmed which ones will be taken forward.

Robb said: "As a result of our new approach, we will continue to ensure public confidence and interact with charities in a more targeted way. It’s very satisfying to note that the great majority of charities agree and we have listened carefully to comments aimed at improving our plans. Our board has approved the programme – we will now actively develop the various work strands to ensure a successful transition and the minimum burden on charities."

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