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Regulator reminds late charities to submit information

4th February 2019

Photograph of Regulator reminds late charities to submit information

The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) would like to remind charities of the importance of complying with their annual reporting duties.

A charity has to provide annual reports and accounts by sending OSCR:

a statement of accounts
a trustees' annual report and
an external scrutiny report.
This is one of the charity trustee duties in terms of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005. In addition to these legal requirements, a charity should complete an online annual return to make sure their Scottish Charity Register information is as accurate as possible.

Scottish charities have different reporting deadlines throughout the year, depending on where they set their accounting ‘year end'.

There are around 8,000 charities in Scotland that have a ‘year end’ of 31 March 2018. These charities are required to submit their information to us within 9 months of that date, meaning that their information needed to reach us by 31 December 2018 to be on time. 555 of these organisations (7%) have failed to submit all of the required information as of 31 January 2019, despite frequent communications with the charities in question.

There can be legitimate reasons for a charity not submitting on time. However, when OSCR has contacted many of these late submitting charities the underlying reason seems to be that reporting has not been given the correct level of importance.

If a charity does not provide us with the required information, the following could apply:

under section 45 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005, we can appoint an accountant to prepare the accounts at the trustees expense
funding for the charity may not be granted
it may affect some of the benefits that charitable status brings, for instance rates relief on a property or a water exemption.
Submitting annual information can be done by completing an online annual return using OSCR Online. OSCR Online is a secure online system that also provides help on individual questions should anyone need assistance. When filling in an online annual return, users are given the opportunity to attach any additional documents that a charity is required to send us. We are willing to help charities that are having difficulties filling in their forms and have staff dedicated to this area of work.

From 1 April 2018 to 31 December 2018, charity accounts were viewed 48,500 times on the Scottish Charity Register.

OSCR’s Head of Engagement Dr Jude Turbyne said,"The public rightly expect charities to be transparent and providing this annual information to the regulator is a key part of that.

"We use the information we get to update the Scottish Charity Register and provide an accurate depiction of a charity and its work.

“Although the number of charities that are late is relatively small, every charity must meet their requirements. OSCR is hoping that this reminder encourages the remaining few to log in to OSCR Online and submit an online annual return.

“Remember, it is the duty of every charity trustee to make sure that OSCR gets this information, and we have powers to act when misconduct occurs. However, trustees should not be scared to come to us with their difficulties because OSCR can signpost to sources of help and advice if they are required."

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