Just thought I'd post this as it's something I've been looking into for clients and may be of use to the wider VolSec community in the UK.
As most are probably aware, the Charity Commission has come up with an alternative to registering with Companies House for limited liability. As of this year, they've been phasing in the option of registering a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO), which is meant to make administration easier. Instead of filing financial returns with Companies House and charity returns with the Charity Commission, you can now file everything with the Charity Commission. It also takes the Private Sector association out of limited liability.
Obvious gaping question you're left with as a charity consultant is: If small charities (under £5k a year) cannot apply to become CIOs until January 2014, but need limited liability status now, what should they do?
Companies House charge a nominal fee for closing a company. It's about a tenner. But I wanted to know whether a charity registering with Companies House now would need to pay to close their account there when they switched to the Charity Commission.
Surprisingly, I went through a couple of departments before anyone had the info on that. Turns out they knew quite a bit about Scottish CIOs (which have been going longer), but not a lot about English and Welsh ones.
Finally got a response from the very helpful Vernon Luxmikanthan: "I can confirm that there will be no charge payable to Companies House in order for an existing charitable company to convert to a CIO." He then went on to say: "I do not believe that the Charity Commission has any intention to charge for this either, however we are not able to confirm what another part of government intends to do and so to be sure you should contact the Charity Commission directly."
No, I haven't heard that they are either, but it's reassuring to know that communication in government remains at its usual standard...
Anyway, if you are a small charity wondering about this issue, my advice would probably be: If you can wait, wait. If you can't, go with Companies House and don't worry, you can switch over without a fee when the time comes.
Although, one slightly disturbing thing I did hear from one organisations was: "The Charity Commission aren't going to be so strict about late returns as Companies House, are they?"