Scottish charities accused of fraud or abuse will have to alert the regulator

From 1 April, they will also have to alert the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator if they are investigated by other agencies or receive substantial anonymous donations

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

Scottish charities that are accused of fraud or abuse, are investigated by other agencies or which receive substantial anonymous donations will be required to alert the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator from 1 April.

The move comes as part of host of changes to the way the OSCR monitors Scotland’s charity sector, which also mean that different types of information will be gathered from charities in their annual return forms and larger charities’ annual reports and accounts will be published for the first time.

The new rules follow the OSCR’s consultation Targeted Regulation of Scottish Charities, which ran between August and October 2014 and attracted nearly 400 written responses as well as contributions from focus group sessions.

In a statement, the OSCR said the new notifiable events procedure would require charities "to alert the regulator on matters such as fraud, allegations of abuse, investigation by other agencies such as HM Revenue & Customs or the police, or substantial donations from an unknown source where these occur".

Charities would also have to sign declarations stating they had not received anonymous donations where this was the case.

It is not yet known what the penalty will be for failing to comply with the new requirements, or what new details charities will need to report in their annual returns – an OSCR spokesman said further details would be announced in due course.

Judith Turbyne, head of engagement at the OSCR, said the regulator’s new approach would "provide more information and transparency for the public and greater efficiency and impact for us as regulator, and keep reporting requirements straightforward for smaller charities".

She said: "We have found over the past 10 years that the great majority of charities operate as they should, and we believe that the time is right to focus our effort on those areas that deserve our attention."

She also urged charities to sign up to the OSCR’s online services, enabling them to file reports and accounts online – the regulator estimates that about 80 per cent of Scotland’s 24,000 charities have already signed up.

The OSCR, which was established 10 years ago, said in a statement that it would throughout the year bring to the attention of ministers those areas where it believed additional powers would improve its effectiveness.

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