The Scottish Executive has published proposals to overhaul the charity law and the regulation of charities.
The draft Charities and Trustee Investment Bill covers the Scottish voluntary sector which includes over 25,000 charities, to which Scots donate about £250 million a year.
The proposals include greater responsibility for the newly-established Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator: it will have the power to grant charitable status and it will also be required to maintain a statutory register of all charities operating in Scotland.
<>The draft Bill includes provision for a new definition of charity based on public benefit.
It also includes proposals to tighten the regulation of fundraising in Scotland. For example, it aims to ensure that public collections are monitored more effectively and that professional fundraising companies are explicit about what proportion of the money they raise for charities is actually received by the charities.
The draft Bill follows swiftly upon the publication of a draft Charities Bill for England and Wales. It also follows last year’s high-profile cases of Breast Cancer Research (Scotland) and Moonbeams children’s cancer charity which have damaged public trust in charities.
Martin Sime, chief executive of the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), welcomed the draft Bill but added: “We’d like to see a definition of public benefit in the bill and I think that would help guide the regulator in their decisions.”
The draft Bill is open for public consultation and responses can be made until 25 August 2004. It will then be returned for to MSPs for debate, probably in 2005.
The Herald newspaper points out that the draft Bill has been a long time coming. It was ten years ago in 1994 that SCVO published its booklet “Faith and Hope in Charity?” which called for a single modern framework for charity regulation.
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