The ability to apply to convert has been opening up by stages since January 2018 and from August 2018 is accessible for all charitable companies.
There are many pros and cons of converting but for us (the charitable company which I am a trustee of) it boiled down to being answerable to only one regulator (the Charity Commission) instead of having to file at Companies House too.
Of course, if the accounts are filed late at Companies House there is a penalty to pay, so converting removes the risk of that penalty too. (I have heard the argument that being registered at Companies House gives greater legal assurance about charges on the charity, which may become important if the charity needed to secure a loan, for example.)
How to convert? The guidance does give clear guidance https://www.gov.uk/guidance/change-your-charity-structure#convert-a-charitable-company-to-a-cio so I am not intending to repeat that, just tell you what we have done and how we are progressing.
1) We used the model CIO Association constitution to write our new governing document. This means the charity has voting members other than its trustees ie its members. (If only the trustees can vote you want the Foundation model.) We kept the words as close to out M&A as possible – did not want to be delayed by the Charity Commission having to process other changes.
I will post the next stages in our journey next week..…
Leeds Community Accountant