Regulation with Rosie: CIOs

The Charity Commission's Rosie Chapman on the setting up of a CIO.

Most of us are happy to hold out for a good thing, whether it's the perfect job or the final Harry Potter book. Like a bespoke suit, the new legal form of charitable incorporated organisation has been designed specially for charities that are seeking corporate structures. So it's not surprising that many of those that want to set up new charities are asking us if they should hold on until CIOs are ready to use.

It's clear that many enquirers hope the introduction of CIOs is only a couple of months away at most, but that's not the case. Their creation will involve additional legislation, and the Office of the Third Sector will consult the sector before it's finalised. At the same time, the commission will consult on model governing documents for CIOs. Given that the consultation won't start until later this year, it's unlikely that they will be available before spring.

This leaves those keen to set up new charities with a dilemma - is the CIO worth waiting for? This is probably the wrong question. Before deciding that a CIO is the right structure, consider the pros and cons of all the legal forms available to charities to see which one best suits your new organisation's needs. A corporate structure isn't the best choice for all charities and, if that's the case, there's no need to wait for the CIO. The "registering as a charity" section of our website gives more information.

If a corporate structure is the right choice, then the new charity can still be a company and registered with Companies House as well as with the commission. When the CIO is ready, the conversion from a company to a CIO is intended to be as unbureaucratic as possible. This is reassuring to those worried about red tape. Again, our website will cover CIOs in greater detail as things develop.

- Rosie Chapman is executive director of policy and effectiveness at the commission.

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