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Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for Community Interest Companies (CICs)

The Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies (CICs) has robust plans in place to maintain services for CICs and protect the welfare of employees during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Understandably, CICs are concerned about the business and community impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The Regulator’s approach to registration and regulation will be as flexible and pragmatic as possible during this period.

In response to the spread of the virus the Regulator’s office is following Public Health guidelines. The situation is dynamic and may change quickly so we’re preparing for a number of situations.

The Regulator’s priority is to ensure compliance with all guidelines to reduce the spread of Covid-19. This includes ensuring social distancing of all staff. As a result of measures in place, paper documents may not be processed as quickly as previously. The Regulator is investigating alternative methods of considering any paper filings and payments. We’re doing this urgently to ensure we can maintain services for CICs.

File Online

Use our online services to help us process your information as quickly as possible. You can:

Many other online filings can also be completed online via the Companies House website:

  • Directors and company secretaries – new appointments, resignations & changes to personal details
  • Changing a company name
  • Changing a registered office address
  • Changing an accounting reference date
  • Changes to ‘people with significant control’ (PSC) information
  • Changes to a company’s share structure
  • Details of new mortgages or mortgages paid

What if I’m unable to deliver Community Benefit during this time?

The Regulator recognises that some CICs will have a period of time where they may be unable to provide normal services and meet the community benefit that they were set up to serve. This can be reported in the Annual CIC report, filed with CIC Accounts, to explain any change in the delivery of the community interest company.

What if I can’t meet the deadline to file my Accounts and Annual Report?

The Companies House Registrar is responsible for account filing; late filing penalties and company dissolutions:

Account Filing

CICs, affected by COVID-19, may be eligible to apply for an extension to their filing deadline. Further information is here.

Please note, CICs have to apply for the 3-month extension to be granted, before the date they are due. If an extension is agreed by Companies House, the new account filing date will also apply to the CIC Annual Report as both documents – together with a £15 fee – are filed and placed on the Public Register at the same time.

Late Filing Penalties

Companies House Registrar will:

  • Treat late filing penalty appeals sympathetically – if the late delivery of accounts was caused by the coronavirus outbreak. However, if you do not apply for an extension before your filing deadline, and your accounts have been filed late, an automatic penalty will be imposed. The Registrar has very limited discretion to not collect a penalty.

  • provide a break for companies to pay late filing penalties and
  • provide additional support with payment plans for late filing penalties

Further information is here

Dissolutions

Companies House is, temporarily, easing ‘strike off’ activity to prevent companies being dissolved. This will give businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak time to update their records and help them avoid being struck off the register. This is a temporary measure and the Companies House Registrar will review the impact of Coronavirus, from 1 May 2020, & publish further updates on their website.

How do I get support to pay my staff?

The government has announced that organisations, including CICs, will get support to help them pay wages via The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). This will support business through paying 80% of the wages of furloughed workers for three months. Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working (furloughed) during the coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country – small or large, charitable, CIC and/or non-profit – will be eligible for the scheme.

HMRC are responsible for the job retention scheme and have published further guidance for employers and employees

Can staff be furloughed and volunteer?

People who are furloughed under The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) cannot do any work or volunteer for their employer who placed them on furlough. The employer can agree to find furloughed employees new work or volunteering opportunities whilst on furlough if this is in line with public health guidance.

Individuals who have been furloughed cannot volunteer for the same organisation which has furloughed them. Guidance on the CJRS can be found here for employers and here for employees.

Can I apply for Government Support?

Yes. The Government is supporting all businesses, including Community Interest Companies, and their employees through a package of measures during this period of unprecedented disruption.

GOV.UK Coronavirus Business Support has been established to provide the right support, advice and information to help with the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19) on businesses. This includes:

  • Paying your employees

  • Paying sick pay

  • Paying tax

  • Business rates relief

  • Business support grant funds

  • Support for the self-employed

  • Support for small and medium-sized businesses

  • Support for large businesses

There is also a ‘business support finder’ to see what financial support schemes businesses may be eligible for – this can be accessed here.

The Business Support website will continue to be updated as new information becomes available.

Can I access other support available to the non-profit sector?

Possibly. This will depend on the scheme and the nature of your organisation. Many Social Enterprise bodies, who also support community interest companies, are providing bespoke advice and guidance which may be particularly helpful to CICs.

Extra funding for Charities announced by the Chancellor on 8th April

This funding is to support those organisations on the front line of fighting the coronavirus and providing crucial services and support to vulnerable people and communities.

A number of asset locked organisations – including certain CICs who are providing critical services – may be eligible to apply for this funding, which will be distributed by the [National Lottery Community Fund NLCF in England. Devolved nations will also be allocated funding.

The Office for Civil Society, part of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS), and the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) will be providing further details in due course:

Big Society Capital Fund announced on 9th April

Big Society Capital have announced a £100m fund for social enterprises, charities and small businesses in disadvantaged areas affected by the pandemic . It will include setting up a Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund that will be run by Social Investment Business, and which will utilise the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to extend loans to social enterprises across the country. Further details are available here

Is there CIC specific support?

The Government recognises the pressures that community interest company, and the social enterprise sector more widely, is facing at this time. CICs are therefore eligible to access the range of government support packages being offered to business, subject to the specific requirements of each: Coronavirus Business Support

CICs may also be able to access other sources of funding subject to specific criteria. This includes, but is not limited to:

Where can I get further help and guidance for my CIC?

Alongside government, many social enterprises and other bodies are providing advice and support to CICs at this time. They may be able to advise on more detailed enquiries which are outside the remit of the Regulator. These include, but are not limited to:

Business Support Helpline

Social Enterprise UK

SE Mark CIC

Unltd

Big Society Capital

Good Finance

The National Lottery Community Fund

Contacting the Office

For the welfare of employees, the main office is now closed.

Email us at: cicregulator@companieshouse.gov.uk and we’ll answer as soon as possible.

Stay up to date

For the latest information and updates:

More information

Coronavirus (COVID-19): what you need to do COVID-19: guidance for employers and businesses

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