We can help make sense of the different legal structures and help you identify the most suitable structure to enable your social enterprise to flourish. Then we can provide a complete registration service for your chosen legal structure.

We provide a registration service with options for registering Community Interest Companies, Co-operative societies, Community Benefit Societies and Charitable Community Benefit Societies.

We can provide advice for new organisations, those wanting to convert or update their rules and more complex arrangements such as group structures.

Choosing your Rules

When incorporating your enterprise your society will need to adopt a set of Rules. There are many template rules your enterprise can adopt, and SCS work with many template rulebooks including those from the CIC regulator and Co-operatives UK. SCS have also developed a unique set of rules known as the Somerset Rules (see below).

We know that choosing which model Rules are right for you can feel like a minefield, but we can support you to identify which Rules are most suited to enable your enterprise.

Following our 2020 update, these are available for Co-operative Societies, Community Benefit Societies and Charitable Community Benefit Societies (the updated CIC is coming soon).

The Somerset Rules are optimised for social purpose co-operation.

  • They enable a co-operative enterprise to be ‘shared’ by more than one group of stakeholders. For example, a community supported agriculture scheme could be 50% controlled by producers and 50% by consumers. Or a business could be 60% controlled by its workers and 40% by the local community.
  • They are designed to enable the widest range of options for financing your co-op by issuing shares to members and to outside investors. Worker Co-ops can enjoy lightly regulated crowdfunding with SEIS and EIS tax reliefs.
  • They closely follow the co-op principles -even those like education, autonomy and sustainable development that are often not referred to in other rulebooks. Widely shared values like consensus and constructive conflict resolution are now also provided for in detail.
  • They are ‘social impact reporting ready’, so that future co-operators must evaluate their success at achieving the co-operative’s stated mission; but the members choose the methodology that suits them.

The Somerset rules have already opened up new possibilities for co-operative enterprise, evidenced by the success of the Ecological Land Co-operative – one of the earliest adopters.

See the files below for more information on when these rules might be useful and how to go about adopting them. Existing co-ops wishing to convert can follow the same process as for registration.

You will also find examples of membership policies, standing orders and first year social accounts, which may be useful as templates for your own organisation.

Somerset Co-operative Services CIC
Registered as a Community Interest Company: 06018662
Registered office address: 10 East Reach, Taunton TA1 3EW
Office phone: 0300 456 2265