Don't let Government damage your organisation!
SCoJeC's third annual briefing for communal organisations on changes to legislation that could impact on the community was attended by nearly 30 representatives from more than 20 communal organisations.
Presentations included information about the new “Protection of Vulnerable Groups” scheme that has replaced the old "Disclosure" system. Everyone, paid or volunteer, who works with children, young people, or adults who are deemed to be 'vulnerable' must become a scheme member, as must their immediate supervisors, and those responsible for making employment decisions about them. Although still complex, the improvements in the new scheme are significant: people no longer have to apply for separate checks if they work with a number of different organisations, and those who only have incidental or occasional supervised contact with children or vulnerable adults do not have to be scheme members.
The second session covered Charity Law, including the requirements for charities to include their Scottish Charity Number on all printed material, and for “cross-border charities” that operate in Scotland as well as England or Wales, to register with both the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR) and the Charity Commission.
Much concern was voiced about the Certification of Death (Scotland) Act 2011, which stipulates that a quarter of all deaths will be randomly selected for review. Although this is not yet in force, a pilot of the new rules is expected to begin early next year and is expected to result in in burials being delayed. Bereaved relatives will only be notified that a death has been selected for review when they go to register the death, and in most cases burial will not be able to proceed until the review is completed. In some cases this may only take a few hours, but at other times, for example, if a death has taken place on a Friday or before a bank holiday, there may be a delay of several days. This will place grieving families in a difficult situation, uncertain of when the funeral can take place.
There is a provision in the Act to allow relatives to apply for registration and burial to proceed in parallel with the review, but this is entirely at the discretion of the area Medical Reviewer. There is therefore concern that this could result in inconsistency, as is currently the case in cases of sudden and unexpected deaths referred to the Procurator Fiscal – in Dundee more than a third of such post-mortems are conducted by non-invasive methods ("view and grant") while in Glasgow all but 1% are invasive.
Next the meeting discussed Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisations (SCIOs). This new status provides charities with a legal identity independent of their members and Trustees, thereby acquiring the power to make legal agreements in their own name, whilst also limiting the personal liability of their Trustees. The procedure for becoming a SCIO is very straightforward, and provides substantial benefits at minimal cost.
Finally, the meeting received an update about the project on "Being Jewish in Scotland" that SCoJeC is working on with the Scottish Government, and provided feedback on a new pilot questionnaire.
Feedback on the event has been extremely positive, with both content and presentation scoring on average around 4.25 on a 5-point scale.