The Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has the power to apply the charity test as defined in the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 to review the charitable status of charities listed on the register. Does your organisation pass the charity test?
The five functions of OSCR as specified in law are to:
- decide which bodies are?charities
- keep an accurate Register?of charities
- encourage, monitor and?facilitate compliance
- identify and investigate apparent misconduct
- inform and advise Scottish?Ministers
To maintain charitable status, charities must continue to meet the ?charity test? to have exclusively charitable purposes, to provide public benefit in Scotland or elsewhere. Click here for more information on the test.
The charity test sets the standard that all charities must meet in providing public benefit. ?Where there are conditions on the public gaining access to the benefit, such as fees or charges, charities must ensure these are not 'unduly restrictive'.
OSCR have reviewed the charitable status of thirteen fee-charging schools.? Of the thirteen, ten passed the charity test (keeping their charitable status).? However, the remaining three failed to meet the charity test and have been issued directions instructing them to widen access to the benefit they provide.?? They have been given 18 months to comply.
OSCR found in those cases that:-
- Unduly restricted?conditions on access meant the charities did not provide sufficient public?benefit
- Fees charged by the?charities were substantial and represented a restriction on accessing the?benefit that the charities provided
- Although the charities?offer means-tested assistance to those who were unable to pay full fees,?its assistance commitment was too low
- While the?charities provided benefit for which they make little or no charge, the?activities were relatively infrequent or ad hoc and therefore not substantial to mitigate the level of fees charged and insufficient steps to mitigate those fees?were justified and therefore OSCR concluded that they are unduly restrictive
If the charities do not comply within the 18 months given, OSCR has the power to take steps and remove them?from the Scottish Charity Register. If you wish to read the reports on the three schools who failed the charity test in more detail these can be viewed here.
If you feel this may be something that you wish to discuss further please feel free to contact our experienced charities team?information or advice.