Blog article

Expert advice: 10 practical tips for societies filing their annual returns

Filing the annual return and accounts is an important event in the governance year of any business. 

In this blog post, Co-operatives UK's Co-operative Governance Advisor Linda Barlow shares some practical tips to help those co-operatives registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 get it right first time.  


If your society is registered in Northern Ireland under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 please refer to our Northern Ireland specific blog for guidance.

Co-operatives and community benefit societies registered under the 2014 Act must file their combined annual accounts and return with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) (the societies’ registrar) within seven months of their financial year end using the Mutual Societies Annual Return Form, which is more commonly referred to as the AR30.

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

Tips for sumitting a successful annual return

Here are 10 simple tips to aid your society’s successful submission:

  1. Ensure that the society’s full registered name (including the word 'limited’ if not exempt) and the correct registration number is included on the form. If you are unsure of your society’s correct registered details perform a quick check using the Mutuals Public Register.
  2. ‘Committee of management’ means the governing body of the society. Enter the details of the society’s current governing body in the relevant section of the form.
  3. Ensure that you know whether your society is a bona fide co-operative society or a community benefit society in order to complete pages six to eight.*
  4. Answer the correct questions for your society type in full. Many societies will be answering the questions asked on pages six to eight of the form for the first time. It is difficult to provide model answers for each question and often societies themselves are better placed to provide examples to answer each question. However, societies may find chapters four and five of the FCA’s registration guidance useful when completing these questions.
  5. Double check that the figures in your society’s accounts are correctly replicated in section two of the form. At the very least, a society must produce a revenue account and a balance sheet that gives a true and fair view of the state of the society’s affairs.
  6. Does your society have subsidiary company? You must - unless the FCA has given permission to the contrary - include details of each subsidiary on the form.
  7. Be clear on your society’s audit requirements. If you are unsure of the type of audit your society needs to carry out see my previous article on audit requirements for societies.
  8. 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).
  9. The society secretary must complete his/her details and sign the AR30. Ensure that the whole signature fits inside the box in section 4.3 of the form.
  10. File on time! Societies must file their accounts within seven months of the financial year end. It is an offence not to do so.

If your society is registered in Northern Ireland under the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 please refer to our Northern Ireland specific blog for guidance.

Members of Co-operatives UK with the Contact package or Partner package can contact us directly to get advice on completing the AR30. Email the advice team or call on 0161 214 1750.


* Prior to 1 August 2014 a society was registered as an ‘industrial and provident society’ but was required to specify on application to register whether it was to operate as a co-operative or as a community benefit society. From 1 August 2014 societies must choose to be registered as either a co-operative society OR a community benefit society.  
Written by Linda Barlow
Updated: 29/11/2018