1st October 2016
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Potential role of OSCR

I am aware of the current interest in proposed changes to the governance of the Shetland Charitable Trust, and note the trustees’ decision taken at the meeting on 12th May.

This decision was taken following consideration of the conclusions of an independent report on aspects of governance, commissioned by the charity – the report is publicly available. I thought that your readers may be interested in the regulator’s potential role.

As charity regulator, our engagement with the charity some years ago sought to remove structural conflicts of interest and to promote an effective and robust governance model where trustees could exercise their responsibility to act in the best interests of the charity.

That will continue to be our role and we are engaging with the charity to gain a full understanding of the current position and the possible courses of action.

As happened in 2012, any reorganisation application would follow the statutory process to allow us to judge whether the proposed changes would meet one of the necessary conditions and outcomes specified in the legislation.

It is not for the regulator to amend or alter a proposed charity reorganisation, nor to second guess charity trustees by substituting other models.

Neither is this a process where those commenting on a reorganisation proposal “vote” on the outcome, although “representations” can be made to OSCR about the proposed changes.

However, we also expect charity trustees, in the exercise of all or any of their duties, to take into account the views of their beneficiaries and the reputation of their charity.

A charity only requires to reorganise where the charity’s constitution does not permit trustees to make such changes or introduce powers which would enable them to make the changes.

We recognise of course the particular circumstances of the Shetland Charitable Trust and, if an application is made, we will take all relevant information into account when exercising our functions.

David Robb
Chief executive,
Scottish Charities Regulator (OSCR)
2nd Floor,
Quadrant House,
9 Riverside Drive,
Dundee.

2 comments

  1. Peter Hamilton

    Given that OSCR expects SCT “to take account the views of their beneficiaries” the worsening culture of the trust and it’s failure to engage with the voluntary sector, as evidenced by former manager of the Citizen’s Advice Bureau in Shetland, Les Irving (page 7 Shetland Times, 17th June), should be a cause for concern.

    To be fully effective the voluntary sector has to be in a position to speak for the beneficiaries who most need SCT to take their views into account. SCT cannot be allowed to continue to cut the voluntary sector out of the picture and act as if it is more important than those it exists to serve.

    SCT plainly needs a governance model which will bring it closer to, not further from, the people.

    Bizarrely SCT chairman, Bobby Hunter, says in the same article that it is “unfair to comment on this” until after the council has spoken.

    Is that what is unfair here Bobby or is it SCT’s failure to engage?

    Is he disagreeing with OSCR or is he simply wanting to show how much SCT needs to change.

    As Les said: “the growing apathy and mistrust of the public towards SCT is generated by its closed culture and paternalistic response to legitimate criticism.”

    Reply

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