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What is a Social Enterprise? 

A Social Enterprise is a business operating primarily for social aims rather than for profit. It is an alternative business model where organisations combine financial sustainability with social and environmental missions, or multiple bottom lines.

A full definition can be found on the Social Enterprise UK website, which is another source of information for social businesses and offers free advice and support. Social Enterprise UK are the national body for social enterprise.


When should a new group start keeping accounts?

By law any charity or community group must keep adequate financial records. If groups have started then records of money paid out or paid in should be kept even if these are donations from founder members.

More information can be found on the following websites:
KnowHow NonProfit which has a comprehensive financial management section.
CASH – ONLINE which aims to provide people with the basic financial skills needed to run successful charities and voluntary organisations. They also produce free downloadable fact sheets.

For the fullest and latest Charity Commission guidance can be found by visiting Charity Reporting and Accounting: the essentials.


Where can I find statistical information about Ealing Borough?

The Neighbourhood Statistics website brings together census data and other large scale surveys. Searches can be done at a ward or local area level on health, crime, employment etc.

Data for Neighbourhoods and Regeneration is a website which acts as a signpost for other websites containing useful research and statistics, and can be used to search on topics such as population, deprivation, employment, education, health, housing, crime and liveability.

London’s Poverty Profile can also be used as a source of information for London borough research.

The London Datastore is a free and open data-sharing portal  where anyone can access
data relating to the capital.

The Ealing Information and Statistics bank is a user-friendly, easy-access collection of free online stats to help voluntary and community groups with new funding bids.


How do I get a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check?
(Formerly Criminal Records Bureau – CRB)

Ealing Council’s disclosure and barring service (DBS) checks and processes applications and disclosures for Ealing Council staff and/or staff working on behalf of Ealing Council. As the council is a registered body with the DBS it can also carry out criminal records checks on behalf of non-registered organisations – this is called an umbrella service.

More information can be found on the Ealing Council DBS website pages, and further information on Disclosure and Barring Service can be found on the Gov.Uk website.


Are there any good reasons for registering as a charity?

There a several benefits in registering as charity for voluntary organisations: 

  • Pay no more than 20% of normal business rates on occupied buildings
  • Get special VAT treatment in some circumstances
  • More funding steams open to the groups
  • Eligible for help and advice from the Charities Commission
  • Can choose from bank accounts specifically for community groups generally offering cheaper and more straight forward banking

More information on the advantages of being a registered charity can be found on the website. 


Where can I find out about insurance?

The Charity Commission website has a very comprehensive information page and downloads on Charities and Insurance.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) preferred suppliers list has preferred Insurers listed.

My Community Starter is a FREE information resource for people who want to get involved in organising smaller, straightforward community activities/groups and includes information on Insurance Considerations.

CASH – ONLINE aims to provide people with the basic financial skills needed to run successful charities and voluntary organisations and has a section on insurances.

ECVS does not endorse any suppliers – the links are here for VCS organisations to make their own informed choices.


Where can I find information about starting a group?

There is information on the KnowHow NonProfit website about starting, running and developing a group. There are several different legal structures some incorporated and some unincorporated. It is important to look at the different structures and decide what is right for your group.

The Charity Commission also has notes on Charity Types: how to choose a structure useful.

If practical advice on getting involved in community action or setting up a group is required, the Just Act website has a number of relevant documents and resources including some that NAVCA provided.

Metrobank also has information about setting up a Community Current Account. 


Where can I find a model constitution?

Once you have decided the legal structure which is right for your group you will need to have a set of rules or governing document which say how your group will be run.  Model documents are available from the Charity Commission website.