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The Notifiable Events process has been replaced: changes in the way charities report important issues to OSCR

01 Apr 2024

From today (1 April 2024), we will no longer ask charities to use our Notifiable Events process to inform us when something serious has happened or is happening to the charity.

Why is the Notifiable Events regime ending?

The Notifiable Events regime was introduced in 2016 to encourage charities to deal with serious issues quickly and effectively, and to prevent these issues from becoming a serious problem for the health of the charity and, potentially, for the wider charity sector.

A recent review of this process by OSCR has found that this scheme was not always achieving its aims. We found that there were mismatched perceptions and expectations around the use of Notifiable Events, the responsibilities of charity trustees, and the role of OSCR in dealing with the issues raised.

Additionally, the reports we received were not representative of the Scottish charity sector as they mainly came from large, high-income or cross-border charities. It was unclear whether the Notifiable Events regime positively contributed to issues being dealt with successfully – or whether trustees would have already had the support and resources required to deal with these issues.

How should charities deal with and report important issues?

All charity trustees should be familiar with the charity trustee duties they are legally required to follow. It is the responsibility of the charity trustees to manage their charity effectively and handle issues or significant events as they arise. Our guidance and good practice for charity trustees contains lots of helpful information about this.

If an issue has been dealt with effectively and the problem has been resolved, there’s no need to notify OSCR.

If, however, it is not possible to address any serious issues, or if these issues have not been dealt with in a satisfactory way, charities and trustees should report this to us through our raise a concern form.

It’s important for charity trustees to try and address any challenges that they face themselves in the first instance. But where there are serious issues that the trustees are unable to address, which would potentially indicate a failure to meet their legal duties, we want to know.

What is OSCR’s role?

To carry out our role as a regulator, we need to know when things are going, or have gone, wrong within a charity. This allows us to act where needed.

It’s important to remember, however, that OSCR is a regulator, not a mediator. If trustees are acting and making decisions in line with their trustee duties and governing document, OSCR will not get involved in disputes or differences of opinion. Additionally, there are some other issues we can’t deal with, such as employment disputes or the conduct of employees. (Find out more about the types of concerns we can and cannot deal with here.)

If a charity trustee, staff member or volunteer tells us about an issue through our concerns form, we will assess this in the usual way. We will then determine if there is a need for OSCR to take any regulatory action, or if we need to provide further support and guidance.

By ending the Notifiable Events process and instead receiving appropriate concerns through our concern form, we will be able to prioritise our resources more effectively, deal with important issues quickly, and ensure trustees are clear about what they need to do to ensure their charity is well governed.