Reviews of Charitable Status

This section details why OSCR has to review charity status and provide lists of those charities reviewed and under review. 

We have a duty under charity law to review entries in the Register from time to time, and to remove any charity that no longer meets the charity test.  We also look at any charity governance issues and compliance with charity law.  Since taking up our powers in 2006 we have been carrying out such reviews into 'priority groups' of charities, and have granted status to over 5,000 new charities.  We have therefore gathered a great deal of experience in considering such issues.

Our aim is to support public confidence in charities, by showing that the requirements of charitable status are being protected. 

We regularly update the full list of charities that we have reviewed.

Our guidance 'Protecting charitable status: a report on individual charity reviews 2006-11' explains how we have developed our approach. This gives examples, explains which groups of charities we have considered, and includes a useful 'Checklist for charity trustees' to help you review your own charity to ensure it continues to comply with the law.

Our reviews are part of our work to protect charitable status, which also includes our monitoring work and our inquiries. 

We continue to publish a list of charities under review.

Future reviews will consider wider issues such as governance, and compliance with charity law.  We will continue to look at groups of charities that we believe should be a priority, rather than examining every charity on the Register - although we do have powers to review any charity.  Our current priority groups include overseas charities, and those affected by the Equality Act 2010.

We will announce future priority groups for review as we identify them.

We have largely completed our group review of the fee-charging schools that we announced in September 2012. The majority of the schools met the charity test.  Of those that failed, and to whom we issued Directions to widen access, all complied and remain in the Register. 

We have set out information below on the charity test which forms the basis of our decisions.  We have also published a full list of summary reports for all of the schools we have reviewed. 

The charity test is set out in Scots law and is the basis for our assessments.  It requires that a charity:

• must have only charitable purposes
• must not use its assets for non-charitable purposes, and
• must provide public benefit.

We must look at whether the charity's activities involve any private benefit, or disbenefit to the public, and whether there is any undue restriction on gaining access to the benefit the charity provides - such as fees or membership.

Read more about the charity test.

As part of our work, we investigate apparent misconduct in charities. In most cases, our concerns are resolved through dialogue, and assurances given to us by the charity that our recommendations or other actions will be carried out. 

Find out more about our Inquiry Reports.

If a charity disagrees with our decision, it has the right to seek a review.

Read our procedures here.

The charity must contact the Review Officer (review.officer@oscr.org.uk) at OSCR within 21 days of the date of our decision letter.

The request must be made in writing and either:

  • delivered in person to our office
  • posted to us in a prepaid registered letter, or by recorded delivery, or
  • sent by fax or email that to deliver it on the same or the next day.

We will formally notify the charity of the outcome within 21 days of the request.