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New beginnings

Tim Taylor reviews Government proposals aimed at simplying the legal forms of charities and social enterprises

14 March 2003

A key recommendation in last September’s Cabinet Office Review of Charities and the Wider Not for Profit Sector, was the introduction of new or revised legal forms for charities and social enterprises. (The term ‘social enterprise’ is used by the Cabinet Office to describe organisations which trade for a social purpose and which are largely self-financing. Social enterprises may also be registered charities.) The aim was to simplify and reinvigorate the ‘menu’ of legal structures currently available to the not-for-profit sector. Existing structures There are currently six principal choices of structure available to charities and social enterprises. All have their advantages and disadvantages. For example, one of the most commonly used forms, an unincorporated charity run as a trust, has the disadvantage of personal, unlimited liability for trustees, while benefiting from sole regulation by the Charity Commission. A charity run as a company limited by gua...

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