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Community Interest Companies (CICs) are proving increasingly popular in Wales, but can require expert help to set up and run.

That’s the view of Phillip Horrell, whose new firm, PH Consultancy, advises people who wish to launch and run a CIC for the benefit of the community.

“CICs are excellent vehicles for those who want to run a business with an overarching social purpose, but do not necessarily want to set up a charity,” he explained.

He adds that community interest companies are first and foremost businesses that are encouraged to generate profits. It is what they do with the profits that separate them from ordinary companies with a statutory 65% being reinvested back into the company or used for the benefit of the community that it was set up to serve.

However, there can be pitfalls along the way. “Although it is not a complex process, too many CICs are wrongly advised at the point of application and this is where expert advice can be invaluable and as a former Deputy Regulator of Community Interest Companies I am well placed to do this” he said.

The new consultancy offers guidance on establishing CICs, as well as mentoring on their running and governance.

There are over 13,000 CICs in England and Wales covering a huge range of activities from nurseries to care homes, sports clubs and other community enterprises. Crucially they protect the assets of the company with an ‘asset lock’.

“This is very important as it means that the company can be run as a business, but its assets cannot be disposed of and are protected,” said Mr Horrell. “They are generally set up by people who want to put something back into society”.

Typically, he says, they are run by “someone who wants to make a difference but also make a living.”

CICs cover a wide range of social, environmental and ethical activities and operate in all parts of the economy.

PH Consultancy was supported by a £500 Business Start Up Grant from Caerphilly County Council, administered jointly with Tata Steel subsidiary UK Steel Enterprise.

“It was very helpful to receive this as it helped towards the creation of my website www.PHconsultancy.co.uk ,” commented Mr Horrell.

Glyn Thomas Manager in Wales for UK Steel Enterprise said: “It is good news that PH Consultancy is providing this expertise to help establish socially-minded businesses in Wales. This can only benefit the community and enhance the quality of life.”

Photo Caption: Boost for the community: from left Glyn Thomas UK Steel Enterprise, Cllr Sean Morgan and Claire Vokes Caerphilly Council. Seated Phillip Horrell.