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Scottish charities need to report on time to give the public confidence

08 Mar 2017

The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) today reminds the country’s charities of the importance of complying with their annual reporting duties.

Every year, every charity registered in Scotland has to provide annual information by:

  • Completing an online Annual Return
  • Uploading or sending us a statement of accounts, a Trustees’ annual report and an external scrutiny report.

It is a legal requirement for charities to send us their reports and accounts. Scottish charities have different reporting deadlines throughout the year, depending on where they set their accounting ‘year end’.

Around 10,000 charities in Scotland have a ‘year end’ of 31 March, which is the most common. They are required to submit information within 9 months, meaning that their documentation needs to reach us by 31 December. 403 of these organisations (4%) have still failed to do so as of 08 March 2017, 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 non-submitting charities the underlying reason seems to be that reporting has not been given the requisite 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 is straightforward thanks to OSCR Online, a secure online system that also provides help on individual questions should anyone need assistance. We are also extremely willing to help charities that are having difficulties filling in their forms and have staff dedicated to this area of work. 

OSCR’s Head of Engagement Dr Jude Turbyne said,

“If a Scottish charity does not meet its obligations, it can damage the charity’s reputation and affect public confidence.

“It is vital that charities demonstrate the great work they do and annual reporting allows them to do that. We recognise that the vast majority of organisations use this opportunity to their advantage. 

“However, it is disappointing to see that on a specific date where so many charities have a deadline, there has been a large number who have missed it. This is despite OSCR and other bodies being there to help them.

“As regulator, we have powers that can have an impact on charities who do not meet their duties. However, the best solution for the charities in question is to take this responsibility seriously and resolve their non-submitting status quickly.”


  • The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) is a Non-Ministerial Department and part of the Scottish Administration following commencement of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005.
  • We are the independent regulator and registrar for around 24,000 Scottish charities including community groups, religious charities, schools, universities, grant-giving charities and major care providers. Our work as regulator ultimately supports public confidence.
  • We use the annual information to update each charity’s entry on the Scottish Charity Register. When annual information is not submitted the charity’s entry will show this with a red line. Anyone, such as funders or members of the public, will be able to see that the annual information has not been submitted.
  • The OSCR Annual Return should be completed online. Our online services are available 24/7 and our system makes sure that only correct and complete information is submitted. There is guidance on completing an OSCR Annual Return available online to help charities complete one correctly.
  • Contact information for OSCR can be found here.