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Practical tips for Northern Ireland societies filing their annual returns

Blog post

Linda Barlow
Written by
Linda Barlow
29th November 2018
Writing a to do list

Filing the annual return and accounts is an important event in the governance year of any business. Her are some practical tips to help those co-operatives registered under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 get it right first time.  

Filing your annual return

Unlike societies registered in other parts of the UK, a society registered in Northern Ireland under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 (“the Act”) must (unless it has obtained prior approval from the Registry) choose a year end date between 31 August and 31 January inclusive and must file an annual return (AR30) within 7 months of the chosen date.

The Registry will send a copy of the AR30 to the societies registered office shortly after the society’s chosen financial year end.  However, if it is not received, the society secretary should contact the Registry to request a copy.

Whether you are a new society filing the AR30 for the first time, or an established society it is important to complete the form correctly and in full to avoid rejection and queries on the form. 

    Is your society registered in Northern Ireland?

    You must complete and file an annual return with the Registry of Industrial and Provident Societies (a section of the Department for the Economy)

    Tips for sumitting a successful annual return

    Here are some simple tips to aid your society’s successful submission.

    1. Societies should check that the society’s details – registered name, number and registered office address included on the front of the form are correct and if not amend accordingly.  If the society has changed its name or registered office in the period since the previous annual return was filed, then it must notify the Registry on the appropriate form and pay the relevant fee.
    2. ‘Committee of Management’ means the governing body of the society. Enter the details of the society’s current governing body, including those who hold the office of chair, treasurer and secretary, on page 2 of the form.
    3. Double check that the figures in your society’s accounts are correctly replicated in section 2 of the form. The registry’s guidance notes should be followed to ensure that the correct financial information for the society is included here.
    4. Does your society have any subsidiary societies or companies? You must, unless the registry has given permission to the contrary – include details of each subsidiary on page 5 of the form.  If you society has subsidiary companies or societies, a society must produce group accounts with the details of each subsidiary (unless permission has been granted by the Registry to exclude a subsidiary from the group accounts) included.
    5. Be clear on your society’s audit requirements. Broadly, a society will need an audit if it is a registered housing provider, it is, or has a subsidiary, it engages in deposit-taking activities and has assets over £1,400,000 and a turnover over £350,000 (or if charitable an income of more than £250,000).
    6. Remember to sign the accounts. The secretary, plus two committee members, must sign the accounts (and the auditor if the accounts are required to be audited).
    7. File on time! Societies must file their accounts within seven months of the financial year end.  During this time, the accounts must go to the society’s membership at the AGM and the date on which the AGM was held must be included in the AR30.

    If your society is not from Northern Ireland, please refer to our blog post relating to England, Wales and Scotland.

    Need help?
    Members of Co-operatives UK with the contact package or partner package can contact us directly to get advice on completing the AR30
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