Congratulations. You have completed your community share offer and you have raised the money you need to proceed. Now the hard work starts.
Obviously you will need to purchase the asset, employ the staff, purchase stock and 101 other things to get the business started. This note assumes that you will be receiving advice and guidance on this. This note focuses mainly on what you need to do to make sure that the Society and share offer continue to work.
In the first few weeks you will need to:-
- Set up your register of members, which needs to include members’ names, contact details, dates of joining and amount invested. You have a legal duty to have a register of members and so this is not restricted by data protection regulations. Templates available on request
- Send out members’ share certificates. Templates available on request
- Register any charges on your property (by for example loan providers) with the FCA
- Decide how often the board needs to meet to manage the business, allocate responsibilities and set up any sub-committees. Good practice is that no board member should have no tasks or specific responsibilities allocated to them.
- Start to develop your membership engagement strategy – you don’t want to let all that momentum and goodwill from the share offer process dissipate.
- Keep members informed by whatever communication channels you set up during the share offer campaign – update your Facebook page, send out e-mail updates, deliver leaflets
- There are now jobs to do. Your members have all kinds of skills you can use and some of these can now come to the fore – if you organise your Society for this. Pat the Plumber might not have had much to contribute to writing the share offer document, but will be helpful in fixing the loos and reconnecting the sinks.
- Make sure that you are developing the systems and processes for managing the business – agreements, contracts, financial systems, recruitment, rotas etc.
In the first year or so you will need to:-
- Establish the processes of member engagement in the Society. This could take a range of forms: providing information hard copy and electronically, members’ meetings, working groups, informal members’ surgeries, open days.
- Plan for your first AGM – this should be a celebration of what you have achieved. There are some legal aspects that you must do (presentation of directors’ report and accounts, hold board elections, appoint accountants), but these need not be the focus of your AGM.
- Pass a special resolution at the AGM to disapply the requirement to hold a full audit, which costs much more. Template wording available on request.
- Submit your first annual return (AR30) and accounts to the FCA
- Pay your annual FCA fees
- Submit your compliance statement to HMRC for SEIS or SITR tax relief, if applicable. (This will be when you are really glad that you set up your register of members properly as you have to provide the information in date order of admission of members).
- If and when you are able to make your first share interest payment – how will you do this? Options include: bank payments to each member, add the amount to members’ share accounts, ask members if they want to receive the interest?
In the longer term you will need to:-
- Plan for some members withdrawing shares and regularly review your withdrawals policy
- Consider moving to an open share offer i.e. a rolling share offer in which new members can join the Society to replace members who withdraw
- Update your members’ register for members joining and leaving or changing their shareholdings
- Refresh the board (this will be when you are really glad that you set up an effective means of engaging and involving members)
- Undertake board training and induction – new board members will not have gone through the intensive learning process that the team has gone through in putting together the share offer
- Keep up to date on changes to Society law and other legal requirements