OSCR ultimatum for Scottish charity

John W Ross Charitable Fund given 12 months to amend constitution or be struck off

A Scottish charity has been given 12 months to amend its constitution or be struck off the Scottish charity register after the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator ruled that not all of its purposes were charitable.

The OSCR opened a formal inquiry into the John W Ross Charitable Fund soon after it was awarded charitable status at the end of 2007. The fund's constitution is based on the will of John Wilson Ross.

The OSCR objected to provisions in the charity's constitution allowing it to make loans to Ross's descendents to help them buy houses because this is not a charitable purpose. Scottish charity law requires organisations to have exclusively charitable purposes.

The regulator also objected to the charity's power to write off such loans if it is wound up. The law requires all charity funds to be used for charitable purposes. Provisions for the maintenance of Ross's gravestone and for the distribution of remaining assets, on winding up, to two railway preservation societies were also ruled out by the regulator for similar reasons.

The OSCR has told the charity it must make the necessary changes to its constitution by 9 March next year. It did not consider whether the charity provided public benefit.

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