Scottish charities protest over executive's mandatory £5,000 advertising charge

Charities in Scotland are protesting at a proposal by the Scottish Executive to force some charities to advertise in the national press at a cost of up to £5,000, if they want to change their charitable objectives.

The executive has suggested that charities with incomes over £250,000 should take out adverts in newspapers if they want to benefit from the reorganisation provisions in the 2005 Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act, which it is currently consulting on. The provisions aim to simplify the reorganisation process for charities that do not have the power within their own constitutions to alter their charitable objectives.

However, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations said the advertising plans, which it estimates would effect up to 800 charities, would not be in the public interest.

“We do not believe that the public interest is served by forcing charities with a certain income to expend their valuable funds taking out extremely expensive advertisements in privately owned newspapers,” said the umbrella body in its response to the consultation. “£5,000 is a substantial sum to be lost to a charity’s purpose, regardless of whether that charity has £10,000 or £10m.” The SCVO added that it should be sufficient for any plans to be advertised on the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator's website, which would be free.

“Given the technology that most people now regularly use, we assert that the only place the details of the reorganisation scheme should have to appear by law is the OSCR website,” it said.

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