There are currently over 25,000 charities registered in Scotland, ranging from small community groups to billion-pound educational establishments. Although charitable status is not a requirement, many community groups (whether existing or just forming) apply to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) in order to access the benefits of charitable status, including:
- Increased public trust and goodwill.
- Access to funders who only consider registered charities.
- Rates relief from local authorities, water rates exemption and tax benefits such as Gift Aid.
- Access to a means of incorporating and limiting liability.
To apply, applicants should register an account with OSCR, complete the online application form, attach a copy of the group’s constitution and complete and attach a trustee declaration form for each proposed charity trustee. For an application to be approved, applicants must demonstrate that proposals satisfy the charity test in that the community group has solely charitable purposes and provides public benefit. There is no fee to apply and OSCR advises to allow for at least three months for an application to be assessed.