Finance and Property policy: Charitable status

Local guiding group's charitable status in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

England and Wales

All guiding units and areas are charities in their own right. Only a certain number of them are obliged to register as charities. Girlguiding units and areas that are not obliged to register still have full charitable status but are excepted from registration in accordance with the Charities Act 2011 by virtue of the Charities (Exception of Certain Charities for Boy Scouts and Girl Guides from Registration) Regulations, 1961 (SI 1961 No. 1044).

To request a letter confirming that your unit is part of Girlguiding, please contact Membership Support Services. Charity registration is not required in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. Under the provisions of the Charities Acts, the following units or areas are obliged to register as individual charities with the Charity Commission. Each is allocated its own charity registration number.

  • Units and areas whose income (including legacies and donations) exceeds £100,000 in any year.
  • Units or areas with any permanent endowment where income exceeds £5,000 in any year.
  • Units or areas in rateable occupation of land or buildings where income exceeds £5,000 in any year.

Rateable occupation generally means having one of the following:

  • ownership of freehold or leasehold land and/or buildings
  • a tenancy agreement
  • licence to occupy a building.

Any situation where a liability exists to pay the national non-domestic rate/uniform business rate involves ‘rateable occupation’, even if the local authority allows 100 per cent charitable relief from rates.

The Charities Act 2011 contains provisions altering the requirements for charity registration in England and Wales which are being introduced in stages. For current information on these requirements contact the Legal Department at HQ. Where units or areas share ownership of property, each unit or area must register separately as a charity.

If property is held jointly with a Scout Group or area, each Girlguiding unit or area must register separately, even if part of a formal Joint Guide and Scout Group. Letter headings, cheques and all fundraising and promotional material used by a unit or area that is registered must state that it is a registered charity and, if convenient, include the registration number.

Scotland

Scottish units and areas are not automatically charities in their own right. However, any such unit or area may apply for charitable status, making an application to the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR). Under Scottish legislation introduced in 2005, an organisation can become a charity through this process. OSCR maintains a publicly available register of all Scottish charities, together with extensive additional information, on its website.

It may be helpful for a unit or area to become a charity for these reasons:

  • claiming Gift Aid, which in Scotland is usually only available to charities
  • grant application purposes
  • seeking charitable relief in certain tax situations, such as VAT relief on some specific items or exemption from commercial property rates.

Contact Girlguiding Scotland for information for Scottish units and areas about the charity application process, and other assistance and support.

Following the introduction of the 2005 Scottish charity legislation, a range of new charity requirements is being developed and introduced, so members are also encouraged to contact OSCR or SHQ for current information on any aspect of charity compliance.

Once a unit or area has been granted charitable status by OSCR, trustees (in the case of a unit, this is usually the Leaders) have an ongoing responsibility to complete the annual Monitoring Form which will be issued by OSCR, and return this with their annual accounts and trustees’ report. There will also be a responsibility to notify OSCR of any changes of trustees (for example when a Leader leaves or a new Leader joins a unit) and to ensure appropriate changes are duly approved and notified as required by OSCR. This includes advising OSCR about changes to a unit or area such as name change, amalgamation or closure.

Northern Ireland

For further details of charity registration legislation in Northern Ireland contact Ulster Headquarters.

 

Published: 8 September 2016