Ten pass but three fail Scotland's charity test
The Scottish Charity Regulator has today [Friday 11 January
2013] announced its decisions on 13 of the 40 fee-charging schools
whose charitable status it is currently reviewing as a 'priority
group' for assessment by the Summer of 2014.
The Regulator has assessed the 13 schools under the charity test
which is defined in the Charities and Trustee Investment
(Scotland) Act 2005. Ten have met the test and have been
confirmed as keeping their charitable status. The remaining
three have failed to meet the test and have therefore been issued
with Directions instructing them to widen access to the benefit
Read the reports on the
schools that failed to meet the charity test here.
Read the reports on schools that met the charity test here.
The three schools - Fettes College and St George's
School for Girls in Edinburgh, and St Columba's School
in Kilmacolm, Inverclyde - have been given 18 months to
comply. The Regulator's view in each case was that
insufficient measures had been taken to provide assistance in
respect of high school fees, or to otherwise widen the access to
the benefit they provided.
The charity test sets the standard that
all charities must meet in providing public benefit. Where
there are conditions on the public gaining access to the benefit,
such as fees or charges, charities must take steps to ensure these
are not 'unduly restrictive'.
The Regulator has granted charitable status to over 5,000 new
charities, using the charity test, since taking up its powers in
2006. It began to review the charitable status of
fee-charging schools that same year and by December 2011 had
assessed 13 schools, of which eight initially met the charity test
with the remaining five doing so after complying with the
Regulator's directions. In September 2012 the Regulator
updated the public and announced it would continue its ongoing work
in this area by reviewing the remaining 40 fee-charging schools by
The announcement is part of the charity regulator's ongoing
programme of reviews of charitable status, focusing on 'priority
groups' where there may be uncertainty about whether the charity
test is met.
Chief Executive David Robb said that the process was ultimately
aimed at maintaining public confidence in charitable status by
ensuring that Scottish charities met the required standard.
'Charities must provide public benefit, and that is what the
legislation requires us to ensure,' he said. 'While ten of
the schools have shown that they do provide a sufficient level of
public benefit, we have found that three do not and we have
therefore issued them with directions to comply with the
legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament.
'As Scotland's guardian of charitable status, we have registered
over 5,000 new charities and reviewed dozens more,' he added.
'We have produced a large body of reference material to assist
charities and our experience is that, even where they charge fees
for the services they provide, they can take sufficient steps to
widen access and thereby retain charitable status. We look
forward to a positive response from these charities as they set out
how they intend to address our concerns.'
The charity regulator has produced guidance designed to assist
charities and the public to understand its work in this area, and
the elements it must consider in applying the charity test.
Its guidance includes commentary on those schools already assessed
and how the charity test in each case was ultimately met.
Issued by The Scottish Charity Regulator, Quadrant
House, 9 Riverside Drive, Dundee DD1 4NY. For further
information, contact Mark Simpson on 01382 220446 or 07920 274498
or email firstname.lastname@example.org
- The Scottish Charity Regulator is the independent regulator and
registrar of Scotland's 23,500 charities and publishes the Scottish
Charity Register at www.oscr.org.uk
- The Regulator's vision is for charities in which the public has
confidence and which provide public benefit.
- Sections 7 and 8 of the Charities and Trustee Investment
(Scotland) Act set out the charity test that must be met in
Scotland. In particular (and in contrast to the position in
England and Wales) the 2005 Act sets out specific factors which the
Regulator must look at in assessing whether organisations meet the
test. In summary, a charity must have exclusively charitable
purposes and provide public benefit; and, in doing so, where
conditions exist on gaining access to the benefit (such as fees),
these must not be unduly restrictive. In addition, the
Regulator must have regard to issues such as private benefit and
any disbenefit to the public.
- To date, the Regulator has assessed 13 fee-charging schools and
granted charitable status to one school as a new application.
Of the 13, eight initially met the charity test and five were
issued with Directions and subsequently met the test. Fee
charging schools remain a priority group for the Regulator in its
- In January 2012 the Regulator published Protecting Charitable
Status, a summary of its work and decisions in this area,
including information on the fee-charging schools it has assessed
to date. This provides background and guidance to charities
and the wider public and sets out key examples of elements that the
Regulator will consider when coming to a decision.
- In January, the Regulator confirmed that it continues to
conduct its reviews of charitable status on a risk-led basis.
The current priority groups are:
- schools which restrict access to benefit on the basis of fees
or charges to beneficiaries
- charities which restrict access to benefit to those on the
basis of characteristics under the Equality Act 2010
- UK-based charities operating outside the UK
- charities established and operating outside the UK.
- Some charities may also be selected for review at random.
7. The list of schools published in September 2012 totals 40 and is
. In addition, the Regulator has identified a number of
special schools and grant aided schools that are currently part of
a review by other bodies. The reviews of these schools'
charitable status will be carried out at a later date.
8. The Regulator has also today announced the
next group of fee-charging schools to be assessed.