Earlier this year there was a significant change to the way that Co‑operative and Community Benefit Societies can interact with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). And a new online portal has been launched.
The new portal is a gateway to the Mutuals Team and will now make it easier for societies to manage their information, submissions and applications.
Mutual societies can now complete tasks online that were previously managed via post or email. This will enable faster responses to applications and submissions, as well as giving societies access to live information.
Societies registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 can use the portal to:
- Submit annual returns and accounts
- Submit applications for rule amendments
- Record charges
- Register changes to a society’s address
- Retrieve recent society documents
Society secretaries will receive information on the portal in the post prior to their annual return submission deadlines, but we would advise to register as soon as possible by visiting societyportal.fca.org.uk as it takes a little time for the FCA to associate you with your society.
It’s clear that a lot of time and effort has gone into this new platform and so far, from our own experience, it is very user friendly and a huge step forward. It will improve and speed up the way secretaries and all those responsible for compliance administer their societies.
Don’t worry though, if you are not so tech savvy, Co-operatives UK is on hand for any of our members who would like some help in getting familiar with the new portal.
Paper forms made easier
In addition to the new portal, the FCA have reviewed and made changes to their paper forms with a view to simplifying, shortening, and making them easier to use. The changes include appendices within the forms to make it clear what is needed, the removal of questions they no longer need answering and updated submission details. These forms are available now and can still be downloaded and submitted via email or post. The FCA have not provided a fixed date for when it will stop receiving the old forms. However, if your society keeps a repository of the existing forms, now is a good opportunity to review those forms and download these updated versions.
Charges and fees dropped
You may also have heard the good news that following our recent consultation, the FCA have announced that from 1 April 2019 mutual societies will no longer be charged a periodical fee.
Please note that any outstanding fees still have to be paid in full, which means any society with a year end date of 31 March 2019 will have to settle any debts. If you are unsure whether or not you still owe any fees, please contact the Mutuals Team for more information as the FCA may take steps to recover these from the society.
Finally, from 1 April 2019 there will no longer be a charge to download documents from the Mutuals Public Register. A welcome change for anyone seeking information on a particular society.
Secretary to-do list
- Register on the new portal
- Familiarise yourself with the information asked for on the new forms
- If you keep a repository of the FCA forms, download and replace these with the new forms
- Check that you are up to date with the payments of your periodic fees
- Contact Co-operatives UK's advice team if you need help on email or by phone 0161 214 1772