OSCR reveals 'affordability' level for fee-charging charities

Scottish regulator calculates amount below which organisations are unlikely to fail public benefit test

Charities that charge annual fees of less than £1,500 are unlikely to fail the Scottish charity test on the basis of the affordability of their services, according to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator.

The figure comes from a computer-based ‘affordability calculator' commissioned by the OSCR to help it assess how affordable different charities are to their client groups. It takes into account various factors, such as charitable objects, methods of charging and information about client groups, such as age, sex and employment status.

Scottish law requires that there should be no "unduly restrictive conditions", such as fees, on access to a charity's benefit.

The affordability calculator will not be available online. According to an OSCR report, however, it shows that "charges of up to £1,500 annually do not appear to have a significant impact on the ability to pay for the vast majority of Scottish families".

The report says the affordability calculator confirms the OSCR's view that the greater the fees, the more important evidence of measures to mitigate their impact will become in charity test assessments. It cautions against making "formulaic" public benefit assessments solely on the basis of fee levels.

The four fee-charging schools that failed the OSCR's charity test last year have until Wednesday to submit their plans to address their failings to the regulator.


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