New registrations

We can register most Community Interest Companies, and we are an agent for Co-operatives UK and can register any society using their model rules. However, we also provide our own rules - multistakeholder social co-operatives, also known as the 'Somerset Rules'.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).
These 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 co-op principles - even those like education, autonomy and sustainable development that are often not referred to in 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.
We have worked with the Social Enterprise Mark, FairShares and the Community Shares Unit to ensure that groups wishing to meet their standards can do so easily.
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, but note the lower charge and let us know your current registration details. 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.

About the Somerset Rules
What's new in the 2020 Rules?
Which Somerset Rules should you use?

Somerset Rules for Co-operative Societies
Somerset Rules for Community Benefit Societies
Somerset Rules for Charitable Community Benefit Societies
Somerset Rules for Community Interest Companies

How to register a Somerset Rules Co-op Society
How to register a Somerset Rules CBS
How to register a Somerset Rules CIC

Sample standing orders
Sample membership policy
Sample social accounts

The Social Enterprise Mark is a badge of best practice in ethical business: the Somerset Rules can be used as a sound basis for an SEM compliant business. It is also ideal for co-ops wishing to use the Co-op Marque in their marketing. Click for details.

The FairShares Model is a philosophical basis for businesses that distribute rewards fairly among stakeholders including founders, workers, consumers and investors. Click here to find out how to use Somerset Rules as the basis for a FairShares enterprise.