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What is a Charitable Community Benefit Society

A society registered with the Financial Conduct Authority, owned by the members. The society is established for the benefit of the community and not of its members. Each member has one vote at the AGM, even if they have more than one share. Unlike with a company, the shares are not transferable and can only ever be refunded at par (usually £1). The share can never be worth more than what was paid for them. A CBS must be established with a social or environmental objective, and has a non-profit constitution and an asset lock. The differences between a charitable CBS and a non-charitable CBS are:

  • A charitable CBS has a stronger asset lock

  • A charitable CBS has asked HMRC to recognise it as charitable and HMRC has agreed

 

A charitable community benefit society must only undertake activities that further its exclusively charitable objects. This means that a charitable community benefit society that intends to engage in trading activities that are neither in pursuit of its primary purpose nor ancillary to that purpose, may have to establish a trading subsidiary to carry out this trade.

A charitable CBS is not registered with the Charity Commission as it is exempt from registration. HMRC will agree to charitable recognition and the related tax advantages if the objects are charitable, the asset lock is correct and any interest paid to members is low and not dependent on the surplus generated.

In Scotland, there is no such term as the ‘exempt charity’ and therefore to be a charitable community benefit society the society must also apply to the Scottish Charity Regulator to be registered charity. To obtain tax benefits the organisation will also have to apply to HMRC. The same is true in Northern Ireland, where charitable community benefit societies must become registered charities with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, and apply separately to HMRC for tax benefits.

Registering as a charitable community benefit society

In order to register as a society, you must submit a set of rules and application form to the Financial Conduct Authority, together with the appropriate fee.  Using model rules reduces this fee, which is payable on a sliding scale from £40 (using model rules with no amendments) to £950 (using model rules with ten or more amendments, or using bespoke rules).  If you are using model rules, the sponsor of those rules must sign the application form. We use model rules.

 

Our fees to set up a charitable community benefit society and then register it  with Financial Conduct Authority and as a charity with HMRC are  £1000 plus vat and Financial Conduct Authority fees which vary as outlined above.

Just email mikefarrell@charity-registration.com or call 01925757887 or 07710141058 for more details.