When cash is running out, who will help the regulators to regulate?

In our day to day lives, most people make the assumption that various regulatory bodies exist to help protect our best wishes and therefore their presence is essential. OFGEM regulates the gas and electricity industry, FCA regulates the financial industry and Food Standards Agency protects public health in relation to food (a full list can be found here). But what happens when the regulators find themselves running out of funds to do the very work we want, to protect us?

This is the interesting position currently faced by the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR), that is reported to be looking at ways to cover rising costs, in a time of lowering Government funding.

Could Scottish charities be motivated to contribute something towards OSCR’s running costs e.g. pay a fee to register or subscription to a range of services? Or could this present a barrier that prevents charities from acting in an ethical manner that will undermine public trust in the charity sector through misappropriation of funds or other scandals? It’s a very difficult question and one that many regulatory bodies will also surely face in the coming months or years.

At a time when the third sector itself is coming under greater scrutiny after recent high-profile scandals, asking charities or the public to help pay for the administration costs of a government-created body is a challenging request and one to which there may not be an easy answer.

Regulatory bodies exist to protect the public, but without extra funding we may find ourselves without their expertise and safeguarding. This is a position that surely no one wants.