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Last Updated: Monday, 24 April 2006, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Tougher charity controls in place
Collection boxes
The regulation and control of charities has been tightened
New legislation governing Scotland's charities has come into force.

The Charity Regulator has stronger powers to ensure Scottish charities keep detailed accounts of how money is raised and spent.

Traditionally, Scotland has had much looser regulation of its estimated 25,000 charities.

The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 aims to restore public confidence in charities after a series of high profile scandals.

The need for stronger powers was highlighted by two cases.

For the first time ever in Scotland we have legislation specifically created for the charity sector
Jane Ryder
OSCR chief executive

Breast Cancer Research Scotland was discovered to have spent only 1.5m out of 13m collected.

The Moonbeams children's charity was also found to have given only a fraction of collections to victims' families.

Under the bill, each charity will have to submit its accounts for scrutiny and more information about how they spend the money they raise will be made available.

There will also be increased powers of investigation for the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR).

Under a new register, organisations will have to fall within one of 16 categories of charitable purpose - such as the advancement of health or the advancement of education - and then meet an overriding "public benefit" test.

New regime

Charities must also seek consent from the OSCR for changes, such as amendments to their charitable purposes or a proposed change of name.

OSCR Chief Executive Jane Ryder said: "For the first time ever in Scotland we have legislation specifically created for the charity sector.

"The sector is an important part of life in Scotland, with around half the adult population involved in voluntary activities.

I look forward to seeing charities thrive in the new environment
Johann Lamont
Deputy Communities Minister

"It is therefore essential that the public has confidence in the sound governance and regulation of charities and that the charities themselves can flourish secure in the knowledge of their rights and responsibilities."

Deputy Communities Minister Johann Lamont said the Scottish Executive and OSCR had been working with the voluntary sector to prepare for the new regime.

"As the independent regulator, OSCR will now be taking up its powers to determine and grant charitable status and I look forward to seeing charities thrive in the new environment," Ms Lamont added.

More than 800 charity representatives were attending a conference in Edinburgh's Corn Exchange, to coincide with the start of the new regulation.

All charities on the register must submit an annual return form to the OSCR, accompanied by a copy of their most recent accounts.

Charities with an annual income greater than 25,000 must also submit more detailed information by completing an annual monitoring return.


SEE ALSO:
MSPs vote for charity law reform
09 Jun 05 |  Scotland
Testing times ahead for charities
09 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Charity reforms pass first hurdle
02 Mar 05 |  Scotland
Giving continues despite scandals
14 Feb 05 |  Scotland
Charity reform 'long overdue'
19 Oct 03 |  Scotland
Warning of more charity scandals
15 Oct 03 |  Scotland
MSP seeks charity changes
30 May 03 |  Scotland
Charity regulation 'not enough'
29 May 03 |  Scotland


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