Policy and Politics: Question Time - Malcolm Chisholm, Communities minister, Scottish Executive

What's happening to charity regulation in Scotland?

The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Bill is moving towards Stage 2, and is expected to complete its passage through the Parliament by the summer. It will establish the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) as an independent statutory body to ensure robust regulation and investigation of charities' activities.

How will the regulator work?

OSCR will register all charities in Scotland that meet the new charity test set out in the proposed legislation. This will be based on a list of charitable purposes and the need to be able to demonstrate public benefit. So we will enshrine in law a definition of charity that is based on the principle of public benefit.

Why does the Scottish Bill, unlike the one for England and Wales, contain a definition of public benefit?

Following consultation on the draft Bill, it was felt that as there would not be a reliance on existing case law for what is meant by public benefit (which will be the case in England and Wales), the Scottish Bill should provide a definition of public benefit.

What will the be impact on Scottish independent schools?

The advancement of education will remain as a charitable purpose but there will no longer be a presumption of public benefit for any of the purposes. Independent schools, as with each charity, will need to be considered individually by the OSCR to ensure they provide a public benefit.

What sort of response has the Bill generated in Scotland?

The Bill has been welcomed by many in the voluntary and charity sector. I believe this legislation will provide reassurance and support to 25,000 Scottish charities, their volunteers and donors.Charities have a vital role to play in society and they need to have the trust and confidence of those donating time and money to them.

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