The General Council has decided that a proposal for NEMT to become a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation (SCIO) should be put to NEMT's members: but what is a SCIO?
Until a few years ago, charitable bodies in Scotland could either be a company limited by guarantee or an unincorporated body (NEMT's current status). The former brings significant protection to those governing the organisation but involves financial and bureaucratic burdens which make it unsuitable for small bodies; the latter is 'bureaucracy light' but offers no safeguards should the organisation run into problems. The SCIO was introduced to fill the gap between these two. Formal reporting to the Regulator is little more than for an unincorporated body but Trustees are, in the main, protected from financial liabilities.
Work on a new constitution for NEMT has been continuing apace. This is necessary to comply with the SCIO regulations but it brings the opportunity to revisit a document which was last updated over twenty years ago. The General Council is proposing that NEMT be made up of its Members and a group of Trustees. Under a SCIO both have responsibilities. For Members, these involve 'acting in the interests of the SCIO' and 'ensuring the SCIO acts in a manner which is consistent with its charitable purposes'. These responsibilities are normally exercised through meetings of the membership, such as AGMs, and Members should normally see little difference in practice. The plan is for what is now the General Council to be made up of Trustees (representatives of clubs and organisations which are Members along with a number of individuals who will be voted for as Trustees at AGMs) and the club representatives whose organisations do not want them to become Trustees. It is being suggested that the latter fully participate in discussions but will not have voting rights at meetings of the General Council. It is also being proposed that block voting rights for clubs at meetings of the membership remain the same but that affiliated bodies be allocated a level of block votes commensurate with their annual subscription.
Whether or not NEMT becomes a SCIO will be a decision for its Members. Once the new constitution is approved by the General Council, it will be presented to the membership. The process of becoming a SCIO involves seeking the consent of the Charities Regulator and then Members will have to take a decision to wind up the existing unincorporated NEMT. It is hoped that the whole process can be completed by the spring.
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