Progressive, Proportionate and Preventative

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How We Regulate Charities

The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) places a duty on OSCR to encourage and assist charities in meeting the requirements of charity law.

We assess new applications for charitable status against the charity test set by the Scottish Parliament. If the body passes the test we enter them on to the Scottish Charity Register. If your organisation is thinking about becoming a charity, you can find out more from our Becoming a Charity in Scotland page.

Under the 2005 Act we have a duty to review the Register and to remove charities that no longer meet the charity test. This periodic assessment or "Reviews of Charitable Status" of charities, checks whether existing registered charities continue to meet the charity test and therefore can remain on the Register. Read our Reviews of charitable status pages for more information on this process.

Charities are accountable to OSCR and the public. Once charities are registered they have to provide us with their annual accounts and information about the way in which they have operated and used their resources during the year.

Read our Managing your Charity section for more information on what charities need to do to comply with our annual monitoring programme.

The 2005 Act allows us to make inquiries into apparent or alleged misconduct in:

  • charities
  • bodies that are connected to or controlled by charities
  • bodies that are not charities but are represented as charities.

The primary purpose of an inquiry is to ensure that charity assets are protected and are being used to achieve a charity's objects. Further information on our powers of inquiry and intervention is available from our How to Raise a Concern page.

Charities need to seek our consent to make certain changes to their charity or to dissolve it. To find out which types of changes require our consent and how to apply for consent see our Making Changes to Your Charity and Charity Reorganisation pages.

We publish a range of guidance materials to assist charities and their professional advisers to meet their responsibilities under the 2005 Act. This includes guidance to help charities prepare their accounts and for Charity Trustees to better understand their duties and responsibilities. You can search our website for these documents or go to our guidance page.

We work closely with a number of other organisations, including umbrella bodies and other regulators. One of our key objectives is to develop ways of reducing the regulatory burden on charities that operate under more than one regulatory regime such as Registered Social Landlords or Cross-Border charities. You can read these pages for more information on our work with others;