As an organization we have grown considerably over the last few years and in order for us to continue to grow and develop we have been advised to review our legal status by our accountants and we have done this in consultation with the CSP and some of the other larger professional networks that have already investigated their options.
The APCP is currently an Unincorporated Organisation and therefore has no independent legal status. This means that although we operate under the umbrella of the CSP (70% of our members have to be CSP members) our elected officers and the members are currently personally liable for all of the activities of the APCP including financially. We do have public liability insurance through the CSP but this does not cover all financial activities.
As an organization we have grown considerably over the last few years and in order for us to continue to grow and develop we have been advised to review our legal status by our accountants and we have done this in consultation with the CSP and some of the other larger professional networks that have already investigated their options. We have also spoken to the British Association of Childhood Disability (BACD) as they are also changing their legal status and are about to become a charity. The reason they can apply for charitable status is that they are a relatively small organisation and they are heavily subsidized by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) who provide their administrative support.
As a non-profit making organisation we could possibly fulfill the criteria of a charity or a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) as we promote best practice and high standards as well as offer education, but we would not benefit from gift aid on membership or course fees as these are exempt from this benefit. We would also have to undergo rigorous scrutiny from the Charity Commission to ensure all our activities were charitable and that we are not offering any benefits to our members.
The course of action that we have been advised to follow is to become a Company Limited by Guarantee. This is a simple form of company and is very suitable for non-profit making organisations and membership groups like ourselves. A structure like this would mean that we will be operating completely legally and the liability of our members is limited to the amount of the guarantee (usually a nominal amount of a £1 per Trustee or Executive Committee member). This would also mean that if we decided to go down the route of employing anyone to work for our organization we would be in a position to take on people into roles we felt were required to benefit the APCP and its members. This could for instance include a professional advisor to help us with promoting paediatric physiotherapy.
The regions will continue to operate in just the same way as they currently do and will remain as unincorporated organisations, they will have responsibility for organising their own finances but be overseen as currently happens by the National Committee. The only reason a region would need to change its status is if it also decided to employ an administrator which is unlikely as currently the administrative support they need comes from the APCP administrators, Fiona and Kerry.
In terms of activities there will be little change for the APCP, we would continue to be called the APCP, and from our current constitution our objectives would be converted to become a Memorandum and the rest of the constitution becomes the Articles of the Association, with the membership criteria remaining the same. The Executive Committee would continue to include the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer and these would make up the Directors or Trustees of the company. The National Committee will continue to operate in the same way as it does now and we would continue to have an AGM where the members would be involved in voting on key issues. We would continue to offer courses and study days as well as conference and develop more online training for the future.
There is no plan currently or in the near future to increase membership subscriptions as a result of these changes.
We cannot go ahead without the backing of our members as according to our constitution it has to be voted on by members at the AGM in November. So I would like to propose that we vote for the APCP to change its legal status to become a company limited by guarantee to ensure that we can function in a legal manner and this gives us the potential to develop our services in the future.
If you have any questions please do email me at Nicola@apcp.org.uk
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