Industrial and provident societies guidance
Substantial changes to the law relating to Industrial and provident societies came into operation on 6 April 2018. These legislative changes were passed by the Northern Ireland Assembly in the Credit Unions and Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies (Northern Ireland) Act 2016 (‘2016 Act’). This act amends:
- the Industrial and Provident Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969 (‘1969 Act’)
- The Credit Unions (Northern Ireland) Order 1985 (‘1985 Order’)
As a result of these changes it is no longer possible to register an Industrial and provident society. Anyone intending to set up a new society must register using one of two new legal forms:
- a co-operative society
- a community benefit society
A new society can only be registered under one or other of these forms, it cannot be registered as both.
Registration and regulation
As Co-operative societies are usually established for the benefit of their members they cannot be a charitable organisation. A community benefit society may be charitable as it is established for the benefit of the community.
On 6 April 2018, operational responsibility for the registration of Northern Ireland credit unions and Industrial and Provident Societies moved to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). An industrial provident society, established before this date or a community benefit society formed after 6 April 2018 must ensure the Commission knows they exist by filling in an Expression of Intent form and apply for entry on to the register of charities in Northern Ireland when called forward by the Commission to do so.
There are important distinctions between the two legal forms and it may be necessary to seek your own legal advice.
Societies registered before 6 April 2018
All societies registered before 6 April 2018 will, from now onwards, be referred to as ‘registered societies’.
Letterheads and websites
If your society was registered before 6 April 2018 you should not refer to your society as a ‘community benefit society’ or a ‘co-operative society registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969’. When producing materials such as letter-headed paper or a website you could write: ‘[name of society] is a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969.’
Changing your name
You do not have to change your name, even if the words ‘industrial and provident society’ appear in it.
If you do wish to change your name, you can apply to the Financial Conduct Authority.
Changing your rules
You do not have to change your ‘rules’, which are your governing document.
However, the next time you are making a rule amendment you could change references to the ‘Industrial and Provident Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969’ to the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969. This is optional. References to the old name are automatically taken as referring to the new name.
The Commission intends to produce guidance for community benefit societies in the future. In the meantime information and guidance should be sought from the Financial Conduct Authority.
The Commission will provide additional guidance for these organisations in due course.