From next month, the annual registry fees will be abolished for the vast majority of co-operative societies and community benefit societies – the only exception being those that are providing authorised financial services. So if your organisation is a society then you will no longer need to pay that annoying annual FCA fee which is so much higher than the £13 that limited companies have to pay to Companies House.
Another reform that will affect the sector in a positive way is that the Mutuals Register is going online so that accounts and the AR30 annual return can be submitted electronically via a new online portal from 1st April. Long overdue improvements to the format of the AR30 have been made and the difficult statistics page has been simplified. Also, the Register will now be searchable online and documents available to look at and downline free of charge, replacing the current charge of £12 per document. This will make verifying your society’s existence and legal status much easier for third parties and make the details of societies publicly visible in the same way that companies’ details are visible online.
Both of these changes have come about partly through the extensive lobbying of Co-operatives UK, the national federal body for co-ops which is a membership organisation. It is a great example of the powerful impact of working together as co-ops, and if your society is not already a member, why not consider reinvesting the money you’ll be saving from the fees by joining Co-operatives UK?
The names, addresses and dates of birth of directors/management committee members from previous AR30 annual returns will now be fully visible online. On the new return the date of birth will be redacted and only month of birth will be visible on the Registry, as it is at Companies House for company directors. Company directors can choose not to show their home address at Companies House, but this will not be possible for Society directors.
In order to file accounts and returns online, the Secretary or another director/member of the society will need to apply for authorisation via the new portal. The FCA will then send a code by post to the registered office.
Overall these changes will bring a much more level playing field between societies and companies and should make your annual filing obligations quicker and easier – as well as cheaper!
Do get in touch if you have any queries.
“We warmly welcome the changes introduced by the FCA who were extremely receptive to our suggested improvements. This is a great example of how a strong and open relationship with an exemplary modern regulator can bring about positive results. We’d also like to say a huge thank you to our members who took the time to respond to the consultation to create the change that will save the sector an estimated £1 million per year.” –
Ed Mayo, Secretary General, Co-operatives UK
For further information: Co-operatives UK