The UK Rules
Setting Up a Social Enterprise

Setting Up a Social Enterprise UK

This help guide is for anyone planning on starting a social enterprise in the United Kingdom. It explains how you can start a business that helps people or communities (e.g. co-operatives and CICs).

BUSINESS STRUCTURES: The size and scale of social enterprises is big in the UK. More than 100,000 employ over 2 million people.

But, they had to choose a business structure for their social, charitable, or community-based projects. So, before starting a social enterprise to help people and the community, you would need to (either):

Note: You may be able to form an 'unincorporated association' instead of starting a business. You would need to be setting up a small organisation that does not intend to make a profit (e.g. a voluntary group or sports club).

Social enterprises should:

Community Interest Companies (CICs)

Starting a community interest company is much like running a limited company. The main difference being that the CIC exists to benefit the community, instead of private shareholders.

You would need to apply to Companies House to set up a CIC. Besides that, you must also:

You can read further guidance provided by the CIC regulator and check what forms you must use when setting up a community interest company.

Further Information and Case Studies

You can get extra advice and further information on business structures for social enterprises, including some case studies, from:

The legal forms publication defines a social enterprise by purpose of a business, with primarily social objectives. Working in the public sector means you may be able to start a public service mutual or challenge to run a local service.

How to Start a Social Enterprise in the United Kingdom