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All Scottish charities are required to prepare annual accounts. These consist of numerical information and also a Trustees’ Annual Report which is narrative information explaining what the charity has been doing in the year and providing details that cannot be expressed in financial terms.
Under statutory requirements, the accounts of Scottish charities must be externally scrutinised. That is, someone who is independent of the charity has reviewed the accounts and produced a report, attached to the accounts, that highlights any issues to the reader.
The formal requirements for accounts and external scrutiny are contained within charity law. The requirements differ depending on the constitutional form of the charity, the level of the charity’s income and also any relevant provisions contained within the charity’s governing document.
The formal requirements under the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 for the form of accounts to be prepared by Scottish charities are:
In brief terms the formal requirements under the Regulations for external scrutiny are:
It is the responsibility of the charity trustees to appoint an appropriate person to carry out the role of auditor or independent examiner and they must consider the skills and knowledge required to undertake the role – this will depend on the complexity of the charity’s accounts and the operations of the charity.
Where the charity’s accounts are independently examined, the examiner must be a member of a relevant professional body where the charity has prepared fully accrued accounts – the professional bodies are listed in section 5 of our independent examination guidance.
Where independent examination is carried out on receipts and payments accounts, the examiner does not need to be professionally qualified but needs to be able to understand the legal requirements for charity accounts, the information contained in the charity’s accounting records and the relationship between the accounting records and the accounts.
Critically the person appointed to be the independent examiner must be independent of the charity. This means they cannot be one of the charity’s trustees or anyone else involved in the management, control or administration of the charity. The examiner cannot be connected to anyone in that position either – so they cannot be a member of a charity trustee’s family for instance. We explain more about the requirements for independence in section 5.3 of our independent examination guidance.
The Association of Charity Independent Examiners (ACIE) invites you to attend our 'best practice' guide to getting your IE right. We are running two events:
This course is for people with some knowledge of charity accounting who wish to undertake IEs, or improve their practice, in independent examinations.
At the end of the course participants will understand the legal requirements and good practice set out in the Charity Commission’s Directions for Independent Examiners and feel more confident about how to apply these practically in their work.
There will be a mixture of informal ‘lecture’ style & workshop sessions with plenty of opportunity for exchange of ideas and experience
The course will cover:
Your trainer will be Rachel Cooper (ACA).
Registration begins at 09:30 for a 10:00 start. Lunch and refreshments are provided. The day finishes at 16:30.
Please go to our Events page to register or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Scottish Government has launched a consultation today (7 January 2019) on changes to charity law in Scotland.
The Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 (the 2005 Act) is the main piece of charity law in Scotland. The changes reflect proposals put forward by OSCR to enhance public trust and confidence in the charity sector by:
The consultation runs from 7 January until 1 April 2019. OSCR will be issuing more information about the proposals in the next few weeks, including a summary of the changes requested to the law and why.
David Robb, OSCR Chief Executive said:
‘We are delighted that the Scottish Government have launched this consultation. The proposals reflect our experience of working with the 2005 Act over the past 13 years and seek to improve the legislation rather than rewrite it.
'We urge charities and other stakeholders to read the consultation and give your views to government so that the Regulator can continue to work effectively with trustees to underpin public trust and confidence in Scotland’s 24,400 charities.’
The charity regulators in the UK as the SORP-making body for charities are seeking views on what changes may be needed to the process used to develop the SORP. The SORP-making body aims to make changes so that the Charities SORP continues to serve the needs of those interested in the work of the charity sector and the sector itself as well as it can.
Please read the consultation document: Guiding the Development of the Charities SORP
The consultation opened on 26 November and closes at noon on Monday 4 February 2019. You can comment on any or all of the questions. Alternatively if you would like the opportunity to speak directly to a member of the Oversight Panel please email: email@example.com.
Please note that due to their work commitments, Oversight Panel members may not be in a position to offer an opportunity for everyone to speak directly with them and the Panel will be endeavouring in agreeing to any conversation to maintain a balance across the different stakeholder groups interested in the development of the SORP.
The charity regulators intend to make any changes in time for the development of the next full SORP. The development of the next SORP will therefore be put on hold until this consultation process is over and the findings and recommendations of the Panel have been considered by the regulators. The Panel’s recommendations will also be shared with the FRC.
In support of the consultation we hope to collaborate with the sector and accountancy profession in offering free events so we can hear your views. We may also have our own seminars. Details for each event and how to book a place will be published on this page as the events are scheduled.
First posted in 'Third Force News' 16th November 2019 - Author Gareth Jones
A report has revealed that charity boards must do more to understand the finances of their organisations.
More than 200 trustees were quizzed as part of a study conducted by the Charity Finance Group and accountancy firm MHA MacIntyre Hudson.
The research suggests there are continuing deficiencies in the financial governance competency of charities, as well as a lack of diversity on boards.
In addition, over half (55%) of charities do not formally assess the effectiveness of their financial governance, an increase of 9% from 2017. The authors have said this suggests that many charities are failing to recognise the improvements that should be made to become high performing.
Almost all charities (99%) consider it important to have more than one trustee engaged with their charity’s finances, which would suggest a need for trustee training and development, but only 56% make training available, a reduction from 81% in 2017.
Respondents are honest in recognising that charity boards are not diverse enough in terms of demographics and background, with 44% rating this as poor. Meanwhile, despite this the diversity of thought within boards was considered to be much better and assessed to be poor by only 15% of charities surveyed.
Caron Bradshaw, chief executive of the Charity Finance Group, said there is work to do to improve financial governance.
She said: “While the survey indicates that there have been some notable improvements in financial governance amongst trustees, there is still a lot more to do to ensure all trustees are engaged in the finances of their charity.
“Help is available, but charities need to commit to using it to unlock the finance skills of their trustees. We encourage trustees not to be complacent over the lack of diversity in the boardroom. It needs to be prioritised to ensure people from diverse backgrounds join our boards - better decision making depends on that diversity of thought and voice.”
Sudhir Singh, partner and head of not for profit for MHA MacIntyre Hudson, said: “I am in not doubt that trustees overwhelmingly are motivated by good intentions. Clearly trustees should do their best when serving their charities, and most seek to do so. But our survey results are consistent with last year in identifying mediocre standards in financial governance and a lack of real commitment to trustee competency and diversity. The inconsistencies in charities’ responses certainly points to a widespread lack of self- awareness, and probably unacceptable complacency.
“Trustees need a reality check on their own performance, and increasing numbers are undertaking formal assessments. Most would be truly shocked if they understood this is holding back their charities’ impact on beneficiaries. So, I would encourage all to take advantage of the widely available guidance and training that is available through CFG, other sector groups and professional advisers – it would be remiss of them not to do so.”
How to improve cyber security within your charity - quickly, easily and at low cost. Click here to download a copy.
The Scottish Government have today (12 November 2018) set in progress a change to charity accounting requirements for some Scottish charities.
The changes will affect:
The changes are happening because the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) that sets out the accounting and reporting rules for these organisations has recently been amended by way of Update Bulletin 2.
As a result, the Charities Accounts (Scotland) Regulations 2006 are being amended in order to bring the updates made to the SORP into law. The Regulations will become law on 1 January 2019, providing they pass through the Parliamentary process.
However, the clarifying amendments contained in section 3 of Update Bulletin 2 came into force for accounting periods starting on or after 5 October 2018. It is possible for a Scottish charity to have a very short accounting period that has started on or after 5 October and will end before the Regulations are finalised. Although these instances would be quite unusual, OSCR would still expect the charity to apply the clarifying amendments set out in Update Bulletin 2.
The Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) has published new guidance on charity investments.
‘Charity Investments: Guidance and Good Practice’ aims to help and support trustees of charities that have investments or are considering investing some of the charity’s funds.
Read the new guidance here.
The guidance has been developed with the assistance of Julie Hutchison of Aberdeen Standard Investments and finalised following a public consultation over the summer.
Responses to the consultation and our analysis of the responses can be found on our website.
A half a million pound cyber fund is available from today (Wednesday 7 November) to help charities and small and medium-sized businesses protect against the most common forms of internet-borne cyber attacks.
Charities who are eligible can apply for up to £1,000, which will support them to achieve the National Cyber Security Centre’s Cyber Essentials or Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation.
Managed by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) on behalf of the Scottish Government, the Cyber Essentials Voucher Scheme is available on a first come first served basis to organisations who meet the criteria.
David McNeill, Digital Director of the SCVO, who is the lead third sector representative on the National Cyber Resilience Leaders’ Board said:
“According to the NCSC's Cyber Threat assessment on the UK charity sector, published this year, many charities - particularly smaller ones - do not realise that they hold funds, personal, financial and commercial data that is of interest or monetary value to a range of cyber criminals and other groups, and so do not perceive them-selves as targets.
“We would encourage all small and medium sized third sector organisations to consider this grant support being made available by Scottish Government to support their organisational cyber resilience.”
Earlier this year in June the private and third sector action plans on cyber resilience were published with the aim to increase awareness of cyber threats and to promote good practice to defend against them, with a strong focus on practical steps to support smaller organisations. As part of those plans this voucher scheme was announced and will also be available to small and medium-sized businesses, organised through the Scottish Enterprise.
All information for third sector organisations wishing to apply is available here: https://scvo.org.uk/digital/evolution/cyber-resilience. The first phase of applications close 18 December 2018.
The Association of Charity Independent Examiners
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