Four years or so back I undertook myself the legal incorporation of a new member-run community organisation (a local development trust), established under the Companies Act as a charitable company limited by guarantee. The process was a doddle and pretty well cost-free. We were able to use model rules provided by the Charity Commission, which we amended to meet our needs.
Now I am trying to incorporate a new charitable community benefit society (a local community land trust I’m involved in) under what was the old Industrial & Provident Societies Act and is now the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act. It is a very much complex, costly and lengthy process, despite the best efforts of various people to speed things along. A doddle? Absolutely not.
I’m afraid one reason for this is that Co-operatives UK obtains a useful income stream from incorporations of new cooperatives and community benefit societies undertaken using its model rules (as most are). This is a practice it inherited from the old Industrial Common Ownership Movement, and ICOM’s reliance on income from incorporations was in my opinion highly regrettable. I am sympathetic to Co-operatives UK’s funding difficulties, but ultimately this has to change. We need equality in Britain between Companies Act and Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act incorporations.