Among the many issues for co-operative and community benefit societies that we've lobbied on recently, the rather limited service societies get from their registrar in return for the comparatively high fees they pay has caught attention.
So we're delighted the society registrar (the FCA Mutuals Team) has proposed:
- abolishing the annual fees it charges societies - saving societies between £67 and £495 a year
- making it free for the public to access records on the Mutuals Register online - abolishing the £12 fee per record it currently charges
We enjoy a constructive relationship with the Mutuals Team and know that behind the scenes a lot is being done to bring the registry service more into line with other registrars in areas such as digital. It's to their credit that they can now also offer to significantly lower the cost of being registered as a society.
We have also been pressing for the £12 fee that the FCA charges a member of the public to view a society's record online to be abolished. It is free to access similar records on the online Companies House register. This cost to access the Mutuals Register has reduced its accessibility and utility as a public record, especially for those seeking information about societies, such as people doing due diligence and credit reference agencies, which has caused significant difficulties for societies.
In June 2018 we welcomed Government's commitment to explore non-legislative improvements for societies. This is exactly the sort of thing we had in mind. We encourage all societies to respond to the FCA's consultation.
“This is one more proof, alongside our work to reduce accounting fees by cutting the need for mid-year audits and our HR service which saves members money through joint purchasing, that Co-operatives UK is good for our members’ wallets. I’m proud of our advocacy on behalf of our members around regulatory fees and I certainly want to recognise the FCA for doing the right thing as a result by co-ops and credit unions." Ed Mayo, Secretary General
Of utmost importance, the Mutuals Team must continue to receive the funding necessary to carry out its critical functions as both an enabler of co-operative and community business and as a protector of the integrity of these special legal forms. As we have argued in recent FCA fees consultations, increased investment in digital infrastructure in the Mutuals Team should result in lower costs and a better service for societies. We are hopeful that this is now being borne out in practice.
How to respond to the FCA
You can read the consultation here.
You should email your views to [email protected] before the 14 January 2019 deadline.
Or write to: David Cheeseman, Financial Conduct Authority, 12 Endeavour Square, London, E20 1JN
If you have any questions or comments please contact our policy officer, James Wright:
t: 0161 214 1775