The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator has recommended three changes in the law to make it easier to remove charities from the register and to protect charity assets.
In its annual report and accounts covering the period to the end of March 2013, the OSCR said that it should be able to remove charities that consistently fail to file documents. At present, it said, it could remove only those charities that it can show are not carrying out charitable activity, but it is difficult to do this if charities do not file accounts.
"It seems reasonable that a charity must be required to submit certain information about its activity to the regulator in a timely fashion, and if it does not do so, that OSCR should be able to remove it from the register," the OSCR said in its report.
"Giving the regulator powers to revoke the registration of a charity which significantly and persistently fails to comply with the reporting requirements associated with registration would address the risk of having charities listed on the register that are operating without any oversight."
The OSCR also said it wanted charities that registered with it to have a link to the country.
"Charities applying for status in Scotland should be required to have a geographical or legal link to Scotland through the residence of a charity trustee, an office or a Scottish company registration," the OSCR said in its report.
And it called for a power to direct trustees to take action in cases where it believed charitable funds had been misapplied.
The OSCR said that it had uncovered misconduct in a previous inquiry into the Glasgow East Regeneration Agency, a now-defunct charity where trustees had breached charity law by offering a discretionary payment to a departing chief executive. But it had no power to recover the funds for charitable purposes.
The OSCR said that less than 10 per cent of accounts were filed late and that about 10 per cent of charities were asked to resubmit "failed" accounts that did not contain the proper information.
It reported that 45 per cent of charities filed their accounts using the OSCR’s online system.
At the end of the year, 23,634 charities were listed on the OSCR’s register, up from 23,459 in the previous year. The OSCR spent £2.81m in the year, compared with £2.79m in the previous year.