The Office of the Regulator of Community Interest Companies has recently published its report for the last accounts year (ending 31 March 2021) and it has some interesting statistics.
These are some 23,887 CICs in the UK and in the last twelve months the number increased by a huge 21%, meaning that 6,838 new CICs were registered1. In a year this is a phenomenal number and is most likely in response to the Covid 19 crisis though some research into this would be welcome. Is it in response to the increased need for supporting our communities? Is it people who have been let go from work taking up the opportunity to continue to work in the same field?
In my time working in the not-for-profit sector (20 years) I have seen the birth and development of CICs and have talked to many who have wanted to and set up CICs. Certainly, there were some who saw the opportunity to become part of the not-for-profit sector and thus gain access to grants and were basically commercial people looking to increase their income sources. These were, in my experience, quite rare and were easy to spot. Most people are those with a passion and committent to a cause and who had the skills to provide solutions to our communities’ needs. In some case reductions in state provision has driven those workers to start up their own CICs and to continue in a job they love, others saw a need and decided that they wanted to help.
Of course, CICs do not get the tax breaks that registered charities do such as a reduction in business rates or corporation tax. But, they have the advantage that directors can be paid for their services and they are generally a lot quicker in their decision making and can trade as much as they want (charities have limits in trading) as part of their income streams.
For myself, I am a huge fan of CICs. To me they hark back to an age when there were companies (many Quaker) that used to look after their workforce, their environment, their customers. They were in business to be sure but a way of business where the bottom line was not solely measured in pounds, shillings and pence. The rise in CICs is an indication, I hope, that this kind of business is not dead but actually increasing and that more businesses take their values and ethics seriously and not just as another way to market themselves as caring about our communities.
1Including some 417 conversions from a standard company to a CIC.