New way to run business

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A BURNLEY accountant will explain the financial ins-and-outs of a new way of running a business when Community Interest Companies are the topic of a conference next month.

Organisers say CICs offer vast scope for socially minded entrepreneurs, especially given the recent political focus on “responsible capitalism”.

Mark Heaton, of KM Accountants, specialises in charity and CIC work. He regularly advises on raising and managing finance within a community interest company. He said: “They are still not well understood by the wider business community but offer great potential.

“There is an emphasis now on firms that work to benefit society either locally, regionally or nationally and CICs allow you to do that while at the same time earn a living.”

Mr Heaton will be leading the finance workshop at the conference at Burnley Town Hall on Wednesday, February 22nd.

CICs are more flexible and not as heavily regulated as charities and have a much more commercial approach. They can be established either as companies limited by guarantee or companies limited by shares and can use assets to raise finance, which is then “locked” with the CIC.

Regulator Sara Burgess will give the keynote address and lead one of the sessions. She believes the new business model has a distinct and valuable role to play in helping create a strong and socially inclusive economy.

She said: “The automatic assumption if you want to do something with a social outcome is to go down the charity route but CICs offer a different way of doing business. They allow you to raise finance and earn a living as well.

“They are the first new company model for 100 years and right now are not as well known or well used as they one day will be. People have yet to see their vast potential and we are working on changing that.”

Created in 2004 there are now 6,000 CICs across the country. They can raise finance and must fulfil a social purpose, unlike charities, CICs allow reasonable remuneration for directors and a limited return for investors.

advice: Sara Burgess and (above) Mark Heaton.(s)