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Charity trustee duties

Published: 24/04/2018
Updated: 24/04/2018


  • Trustee remuneration

  • References to charitable status 

  • Making changes to your charity – Consent and notification


Charity trustees are defined in the same way under both sets of laws: ‘the persons having the general control and management of the administration of a charity’.

Under the 2005 Act charity trustees have legal duties and responsibilities. These trustee duties apply equally to charity trustees of cross-border charities. OSCR’s Guidance and good practice for Charity Trustees explains these duties.

The general principles of running a charity are the same between Scotland and England and Wales; however, there are some specific differences and requirements between the two sets of laws. Cross-border charity trustees need to be aware of these. See Charity Commission guidance, publications and information

Trustee remuneration 

The rules on paying charity trustees are different between Scotland and England and Wales. Cross-border charities should make sure they are familiar with the requirements under both sets of legislation.

  • In Scotland

A charity trustee must not be paid, for services provided to the charity, either as a charity trustee or under contract, unless all of the conditions set out in the 2005 Act are met. For more details on the conditions see Guidance and Good Practice for charity trustees.

  • In England and Wales

In England and Wales, generally, charities can’t pay their trustees for simply being a trustee. Some charities do pay their trustees – they can only do so because it’s allowed by their governing document, or they have obtained consent to do so from CCEW or the courts.

See Payments to charity trustees: what the rules are for more information.


References to charitable status 

All UK registered charities have to show their charity number and other details on external documents.

  • In Scotland

In Scotland charity trustees must make sure that the charity’s details, including the Scottish Charity Number (SC0[zero]xxxxx), are on all the charity’s formal communications, like letters, emails, invoices and websites.

Further details on the requirements and the type of documents which they affect can be found in Guidance and good practice for Charity Trustees. You can also add the OSCR Registration logo to your documents.  

  • In England and Wales

Charities registered with CCEW also have to provide information in documents, see The essential trustee: what you need to know, what you need to do (CC3).


Making changes to your charity – Consent and notification

Depending on the change you want to make, your charity may need to get consent and/or notify OSCR and CCEW.

  • In Scotland

Under the 2005 Act you must seek OSCR’s consent before making any of the changes listed below:

  • Change to name
  • Change to charitable purposes
  • Amalgamate with another body
  • Wind itself up or dissolve itself
  • Apply to the Court in relation to any of the above actions.

See Making changes to your charity for more information on when to seek OSCR’s consent and when to notify us of changes.

  • In England and Wales

CCEW consent is also required in respect of some of the above changes for certain types of charities. In these cases charities should apply to both regulators simultaneously and make sure the change is not made until the consent of both CCEW and OSCR is received. See the Managing your charity for more information.