7.2 Openness and transparency
Section 89 of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 obliges a society to submit an annual return to the FCA within seven months of its financial year end. The annual return consists of a balance sheet and revenue account for the society, plus the auditor’s report (or equivalent) and the FCA’s annual return form AR30. Section 90 of the 2014 Act requires societies to make this annual return available to all members and anyone else who requests it. There is provision within the Act for this duty to be discharged by publishing the latest copy of the annual return on the society’s website.
Sections 103 and 104 of the 2014 Act requires a society to make its register of members available for inspection to members and anyone else with an interest in this document. This does not include the right to see details of a member’s share account or other financial relationships with the society, unless the member has given their written consent to this disclosure.
The Community Shares Unit recommends that all societies in receipt of community investment should normally make, as a matter of good practice, the following information available on the society’s website:
- Copies of its annual accounts for at least the previous three years (if applicable) accompanied by the auditor’s report or equivalent
- Copies of the annual return to the FCA(AR30) for the at least the previous three years, or an up-to-date completed copy of the finance summary template produced by the Community Shares Unit for share offers awarded the Community Shares Standard Mark
- An up-to-date list of the officers of the society and its directors, including details of how to contact them
- An up-to-date copy of the society’s rules
- A copy of any community share offer document published in the previous five years
- A copy of any business plan published in conjunction with an offer document in the previous five years
- A copy of any current registered charges over the society’s assets.
A charitable community benefit society registered with the Scottish Charity Regulator must also comply with its reporting arrangements including the statutory requirement to provide a copy of their annual accounts. Furthermore, Section 23 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005 states that the charity must provide a copy of its constitution and accounts to a person who requests a copy.
If you have any questions or suggestions for new information you would like to find in the Handbook, contact the team by email at [email protected]