On 25 July 2022, Scotland’s charity regulator, OSCR, revamped its ‘OSCR Online’ service in a bid to make it more accessible and easier for charity users to navigate. As part of its promotion, it recently held a webinar: ‘How to use OSCR Online to submit an annual return’. The video provides guidance on how to use the new system. OSCR contends that by upgrading the online system:
- New design features make it more user-friendly (as well as mobile friendly)
- More charity users will be able to access a charity’s record
- The upload file size has been increased and therefore larger documents can be uploaded
- OSCR will be able to adapt and improve the new system based on feedback it receives from users
Overall, it is a more secure and efficient online system for charity trustees to access.
What is OSCR Online?
It is a requirement for all registered charities in Scotland to annually send OSCR a set of accounts, a trustees’ annual report and an external scrutiny report. Charities can now do this by submitting an online annual return via the OSCR Online system. On this basis, the portal allows charities to:
- Submit an online annual return; and to
- Change certain register information.
OSCR Online can be accessed here.
The new OSCR Online portal is completely different to the previous system. Logging in is now done on an individual basis. Users can log in with their own email address and password, and not the charity’s. The new system allows for up to three separate users to have access to a charity’s record. Therefore, one individual can be associated to a number of charities. Once those details are filled in, the user will then be asked for the charity number. ‘SC’ is already included; all that is required is the six-digit charity number (note: this normally starts with “0” (zero) and not the letter “O”).
The new dashboard provides a number of tabs to make it easier for users to navigate the system:
- “Managing charity users”
- “Annual return”
- “Making changes to your charity”
Completing the annual return feature lists the sections of the annual return itself, and the questions it asks have not changed. Larger documents can now be included, and more than one document can be uploaded at one time. Files can also be deleted.
The ‘making changes to your charity’ tab allows you to change certain details, including:
- Charity’s contact details
- Accounting reference data
- A parent charity name, number and country of registration
However, there are some details that cannot be changed or updated. Changing a legal name, for instance, which requires the OSCR’s consent.
Under the ‘managing charity users’ tab, a charity can add and allow access to up to three users. This is one of the biggest changes of the new system. If user X tries to remove user Y, user Y will be notified of this and will have to confirm whether they should be removed from accessing the account. As well as this feature, users can also change charities. Under the green tab, selecting ‘switch charity’ allows you to enter the charity number into the box and you will be directed to that account. All in all, a more flexible and user-friendly system that charity trustees will no doubt benefit from.
This article was co-written by Katie Morrison, Trainee Solicitor.