Mutual societies registration function: 2021-22

Corporate documents Published: 24/05/2022 Last updated: 24/05/2022

An update on our work and a breakdown of societies on the register.

In this update, we provide an overview of the function, our strategy, and details of developments for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022. We also give some statistical information on our work and the number of societies on the register.  

We are responsible for registering mutual societies that are registered under:  

  • Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 (previously the Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1965)  
  • Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969  
  • Credit Unions Act 1979  
  • The Credit Unions (Northern Ireland) Order 1985  
  • Friendly Societies Act 1974  
  • Friendly Societies Act 1992  
  • Building Societies Act 1986  

In line with the Mutual Societies Order 2013 (exercising powers in the Financial Services Act 2012) we have arrangements to determine whether mutual societies are complying with the relevant legislation. Our role as the registering authority for mutual societies is distinct from our other roles under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 (FSMA).

Our strategy

We reviewed our strategy for the next three years and we aim to maintain public confidence in the different legal structures mutual societies can use by:  

  • operating a system of oversight to assess and drive compliance   
  • supporting the mutual society legal structures, and acting to tackle harm  
  • helping the public, societies, and their members understand the nature of our role 

We will do this by focusing on data, digital platforms (eg Mutuals Society Portal), compliance and our engagement with stakeholders.


We communicated with societies, sponsoring bodies, and regular submitters of applications, on 10 November 2021 to update the Covid-19 related measures we had in place.

In that update we said:

  • Annual Returns: in April 2021 we explained that for annual returns due by 31 October 2021, we will not act to follow-up on delayed submission where that delay is three months or less. This remains the case. Though we are not extending this general forbearance further, we are mindful that some societies will still be experiencing delays in producing accounts and intend to engage supportively to bring about submission.   
  • General Meetings: societies can hold meetings virtually where this is not prevented by legislation or their rules. We welcome that we have seen lots of societies taking the opportunity to update their rules over the last year to better facilitate virtual meetings where possible. It remains the case that societies are expected to comply with any legislative requirement, or requirements under their own rules, for holding meetings. It may be in the public interest for us to act if we see non-compliance. This will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.   
  • Statutory declarations: from 13 December 2021, we will no longer offer forbearance for statutory declarations required by either mutuals legislation or our application forms. They will need to be fully completed on submission to us.   
  • Electronic submission: we continue to accept and encourage electronic submission of applications and annual returns, including the use of electronic signatures where that is possible. 

Mutuals Public Register

The Mutuals Public Register provides important information for societies, their members and the public. As well as listing the societies registered, it also holds documents for each society, such as annual returns, accounts and rule amendments.  

We have continued to make accessibility improvements to the register. As part of our strategy, we plan to make other improvements to the register to enhance its functionality.

We carried out an extensive programme of digitisation of the paper records we held. This programme has now been completed. This year we uploaded a further 35,393 documents to the register. 

Mutuals Society Portal

The Mutuals Society Portal provides a straightforward and efficient way for mutuals to send us their annual returns and other information. This year the number of registered users has increased by 21%, to 8,023.

Engaging with societies

On 2 February 2022 we held a virtual roundtable event attended by 24 people from 16 society sponsoring bodies. The event was a valuable opportunity to share views and understand what we can do to help societies and the registration process. Future roundtable events are scheduled for 2022-23.

We engage with firms of solicitors who regularly submit registration applications to us. Between December 2021 and February 2022, we wrote to these firms and held meetings with five of them to seek feedback and discuss improvements to the operation of the registration function.  

We also participated in the following: 

We welcomed and implemented the suggestion from sponsoring bodies to add to the information we provide to newly registered societies through a ‘new registration’ leaflet. We have also pulled together existing guidance on ending registration (eg cancellation, dissolution) for co-operative and community benefit societies into a single Information Note for ease of reference.

Use of powers 

We have: 

  • inspected the register of members of a society, using our power under s30(8) of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014  
  • called a special meeting of a society, under s106 of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 following an application from members of that society

These powers were exercised in relation to the Licensed Taxi Drivers Association Limited (registration number 21472R).

Last year we referenced the use of our power of cancellation of a society pursuant to Condition D at Section 5(5)(c) of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. That power was used in relation to what was then West Solent Solar Co-operative Limited (registration number 32169R).

We publish separately instances of prosecution and cancellation for non-submission of annual returns and accounts.

We regularly engage with societies to bring about compliance. This often does not involve the use of a statutory power. Instead, societies voluntarily take action to bring themselves into compliance. In 2021-22 we contacted 96 societies on matters of compliance.  

Separately, we were a respondent to a decision before the First-tier Tribunal (General Regulatory Chamber) Information Rights, relating to a mutual society (Appeal Reference EA/2021/0003). 


Complaints about the delivery of the mutuals registration function are covered by our complaints scheme. During this year, there was one complaint subject to a decision of the Complaints Commissioner. This was complaint FCA001053, published 7 December 2021.

In numbers

Societies registered as of 31 March 2022

Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014  


Friendly Societies Act 1974  


Credit Unions Act 1979  


Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969  


The Credit Unions (Northern Ireland) Order 1985  


Building Societies Act 1986  


Friendly Societies Act 1992  




Types of societies registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014

Registered society*  


Co-operative Society  


Community Benefit Society  


Total 8352 

*This refers to societies registered before the commencement of the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 on 1 August 2014, referred to in legislation as a ’pre-commencement society’.

Types of societies registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 1969

Registered society*  


Credit union  


Co-operative society  


Community benefit society  


Total 236 

*This refers to societies registered before the commencement of section 8 of the Credit Unions and Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act (Northern Ireland) 2016 on 6 April 2018, referred to in legislation as a 'pre-2016 Act society'.

Types of societies registered under the Friendly Societies Act 1974

Benevolent society  


Friendly society  


Specially authorised society  


Working men’s club  


Total 944 

Changes during the year

Throughout the year, 288 new societies were registered and 142 deregistered. 

Of the 288 new registrations:

Society type 

Great Britain  

Northern Ireland 


Community Benefit Societies 



Co-operative Societies 



Of the new registrations, 38 followed a company converting to a society.  

Of the 142 societies deregistered: 

Deregistration reason 

Conversion from a working men’s club under the Friendly Societies Act 1974 to a Co-operative or Community Benefit Society 

Conversion of a society to a company 

Transfer of engagements, dissolution or liquidation 


Cancelled at own request 


Cancelled at our instigation  

Summary of registration and deregistration over previous years:  


New registration  





















We determined 3,012 applications during the year. This represents an increase of 22% in determinations on the previous year. 

In our voluntary service standard we said that we would determine at least 90% of complete applications within 15 working days. During this period, we determined 74.8% of complete applications within 15 working days.

The Mutuals function is partly a demand-led function. Determination times vary depending on factors including the volume of submissions, quality of information provided in the application, the complexity of the submission, and the issues and concerns identified during our registration assessment. For example, assessing a free-draft complete amendment of rules takes significantly longer than assessing a short partial amendment of rules.

As well as determining applications, the Mutuals function also responds to queries from public facing inboxes, provides a public records function, processes annual returns and accounts, and takes action to tackle non-compliance – including the use of powers.

To address the determination time, we are recruiting additional staff in this area and in the longer term, as part of transforming the FCA, we are looking at how we can make decisions faster. This includes making sure we receive complete applications on submission and through greater use of the Mutuals Society Portal.

Voluntary service standards over previous years are:  


Percentage of complete applications determined within 15 working days  














Here is more information on the mutual societies registration function.