CIC Association

Serving Community Enterprise

I'd like to know if anyone else has experienced any problems filing accounts with Companies House.

 

Last year they gave us access codes to file online- we did that - only to be told that CICs could not file online - we were then presented (after much correspondence) with an invoice for late payment.

 

This year our accountant filed the accounts on time - he didn't know about the CIC statement. They reminded him, he sent the statement immediately. Because he didn't send the accounts and the statement at the same time they say we have filed late - this time the invoice is for £750.

 

I despair. It's maladminstration and we are asked to pay the cost.

 

Does anyone else have tales of woe - or is it just us?

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Hi Terri  - I find your comment that "no-one understands the CIC model" - very interesting.  I was going to establish a CIC ( and still may), but unfortunately, I think you are right and the general public do  not understand the unique features of the Community Interest Companies.

 

It has probably been said before, but social enterprise seems to be being strangled at birth by restrictive legal structures.   Private limited companies are now so easy to establish and run and should be the model for CICs etc, otherwise as you say people will not bother setting CICs up.

Hi David,

we are the same as private limited companies, the CIC status is applied to a private limited company. The function is to provide a flexible trading vehicle that operates firstly for the benefit of a stated community, not for shareholder value (although that can form part of your investment mix) 

 

The growth of CICs is quite impressive, but it does carry certain extra responsibilities and conditions compared to a private company so isnt for everybody.

 

Being a CIC opens doors that a private company could never walk through. 

Hi John,

 

I agree the growth of CICs is impressive.  However, if Terri's concerns become widespread that growth may be arrested.    Maybe, the CIC movement need to determine how widespread Terri's concerns are and nip them in the bud before they gain momentum?

Hi David

In reality I think Terri's concerns are already widespread. I wont go into chapter and verse but I have been amazed at some of the negative comments being put about with a blaise disregard for the effect they cause.

A huge amount of it is understanding and awareness........ive been on the wrong end of that stick and it can drive you bonkers, for example , i spoke to one foundation and they said they wouldnt support CICs, the first reason cited was the CIC 'leader' was driving around in a bmw.  I asked him what car he drove.....funny enough he didnt give me an answer!

If you're limited by shares you cant expect many foundations to view you positively, but if you're limited by guarantee there is a case and im prepared to get involved in trying to change any organisations view

The flip side though is there are now situations where commissioners are stating they would prefer organisations to have CIC status, that is likely to increase.

 

The fight goes on! We'll be putting out our second questionnaire shortly which asks about individual experience on exactly this point, and have included all of the suggestions made in the thread by members  (please have a look at the link and suggest any additions you would like included) 

http://cicassoc.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-cic-questionnaire

From your comment John am I right in thinking that CICs limited by shares are viewed as essentially private limited companies with some commuity interest thrown in?

 

I think another issue is that some people are hi-jacking the social enterprise vehicle for commercial purposes.  There is a magazine in our area that stresses it is a social enterprise staffed by volunteers but it is headed by one of the most hard nosed commercial people I have met.

 

If there is anything I can do to help in the fight just let me know.  I will have a look at the link but by the sounds of things you have "all the bases covered".

Hi David

Nope! I find I have to be very careful describing my thoughts on this, CICs limited by shares are trading vehicles (you could say essentially private limited companies) that have the community primacy enshrined in their governing documents, with a powerful regulator to monitor and enforce the rules. This vehicle has the ability to raise funds and offer a capped to return to investors.

 

CIC is a very broad church, and I try not to attach my own personal to what should and shouldnt be one, the rules are laid out.......within that I guess you can do anything to raise income for your stated community of interest.

 

Im being pedantic but it sometimes helps, you mention a Social enterprise vehicle.....now I see myself as a social entrepreneur, part of a world wide movement of people doing good through activity, but CIC under the definitions expressed in this country, isnt necessarily a social enterprise. There is so much subjectivity to what is and isnt a social enterprise, for me its activity and cannot be defined.

 

anyway, back to something productive, thanks for the feedback on the questionnaire, might be too late to get it included but im going to try, some excellent points.

 

Thanks 

has just had a phone call from BMG doing the State of social enterprise survey from the SEC, apparently we're not a social enterprise!

Hi David, just to say be very careful before you set-up your CIC. I agonised over it for ages - and eventually took the plunge, with mixed results....

I avoided paying a lawyer (as I'm an ex legal beagle ) and drafted all the documentation myself, yet am still frustrated at the cost of running a CIC. Remember to factor all the financial implications in - like fees to Companies House, possible fines for late returns, costs to your accountant etc...

Some of this you may be able to do yourself, but I was stagggered at our accountant's bill of almost £1,000! The community statement is the easy, fun bit - well, sort of, but some of the associated grief drives you quite mad! If you need any guidance, I'm happy to help.... 

Hi Terri

 

Did you see Isobels' post? £3k to get the paperwork done? Madness, We've got the start of a sensible offer being organised, ive verbally agreed good deals with a book-keeper, and two CIC accountant firms already, al of whom I have vetted to some extent or other and will be able to handle very basic to complex CIC work, we're dovetailing it into some wider content development as well so in many ways we are getting on with it regardless, but i repeat the call for offers of energy, this is a collective and we need all the leaders we can to step up and get involved.

 

I done all the paperwork myself, in some ways it is worth going through the process for the greater understanding it brings, both of the pros and cons. I tell you what, there's a huge spot for a sensible offer on an incorporation service, im looking at a few but i think some of the incorporation members are going to step up and deliver some competitive services in this area, please contact Isobel if you do :-)

 

On the wider discussion and original thread (apologies for the  diversion), I said at the CIC Forum July 2010 ..... CIC- 'provides a multi billion pound opportunity to innovate, allowing social enterprise to create new practical solutions, definitely of relevance in a Big Society environment, and of practical use whatever the political ideaology or economic conditions'

Yes, we should discuss a gathering, i can try and get brockwell park (in Lambeth, 10 mins from Victoria) in the summer? A CIC runs an environment festival day there and we could turn it into a CIC Day, notwithstanding Urban Green Fairs' comments?

 

We also met in Birmingham last year, and ive been up and down to quite a few CICs holding small meetings. If anyone wants to host any meetings I'll certainly get involved, and The Regulator can normally be persuaded to join.

 

 

Hi Terri,

 

Thanks for the advice.  I am still "agonising" as well about the decision.   I have registered a company and need to decide whether to re-register it as a CIC, or indeed, if I can satisfy the community interest test.

The reason for my doubt is because essentially my "CIC" would exist to serve other third sector organisations in a consultancy capacity.

 

If you or anyone has any advice on this, i would be very grateful to receive it.  I must say that as an accountant (not praticising) a fee of £1,000 seems very high.  Maybe you should consult other accountants - perhaps like Heidi?

 

As we all know, there are two annual filings to be made - the Annual Return; and the Annual Report & Accounts plus CIC34. 

As to the first (which is free, anyway), we have had no problems at all in submitting on-line): but as to the second, we have never tried to do this - for two reasons:-

1: it has always been clear that CH passes the CIC34 to someone else (nominally the CIC Registrar) to handle, and there has never been any clear evidence that this was either timeous (to use the convenient Scottish word) or open to external direct access;

2: with petifogging changes in the precise wording of the statutory declarations on the accounts, it has always seemed wise to submit (a) in good time, and (b) on paper.

This has in practice served us well, in that we have had returns refused for want of the precise wording said to be required (even when a declaration saying the same thing has been made), and have had time to modify and resubmit without any penalty even being suggested.

There are potential benefits from not insisting on "up to the deadline" on-line submissions!

Interestingly our invoice is for £750, not £150. Perhaps because, as Companies House says, we managed to file our accounts last year, so why not this.

 

I'll join John by standing up against Companies House and letting them take us to court. Well, I would, except we don't have the cash to mount a campaign. That's a common complaint - the government is withdrawing Legal Aid for poor people everywhere - and a community company doesn't have spare cash anyway.

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