Scotland drafts charity law based on public benefit

    New measures to update and strengthen Scottish charity law were
    unveiled by the Scottish Executive this week, writes
    Maggie Wood
    .

    The draft Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Bill
    proposes to create a new Scottish definition of charity based on
    the principle of public benefit which is compatible with the
    definition recently adopted by the UK government.

    It will also give an enhanced range of powers to the newly
    created Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) which will
    have responsibility for granting charitable status to organisations
    and will maintain a register of all charities operating in
    Scotland.

    OSCR will also be responsible for ensuring that there is better
    regulation of fund-raising activity across Scotland. Concern has
    been expressed in the past centring on investigations into
    operators dishonestly collecting money on behalf of charitable
    organisations.

    Communities minister Margaret Curran said that an estimated
    £250 million is donated to Scottish charities each year and
    that the public deserve the right to be sure that charities are
    effective and trustworthy.

    Leon Thompson from the Scottish Council for Voluntary
    Organisations (SCVO) said, “We welcome the long awaited draft
    charities bill which will modernise the legal framework which
    underpins the contribution that Scottish charities make to the
    public good in Scotland. The key aim is to maintain public
    confidence in Scottish charities.”

    The executive consultation runs until 25 August.

    More information at www.scotland.gov.uk/consultations

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