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CIC Association responds to Campbell's CIC criticism

29 October 2008
John Mulkerrin of the CIC Association

John Mulkerrin of the CIC Association says Tim Campbell was too hasty with his criticism of CICs

Apprentice winner Tim Campbell was too hasty in his criticism of community interest companies (CICs), a founder of the association set up to defend the interests of CICs said this week.

Responding to Campbell's comments that the legal structure of CICs were not ‘fit for purpose', made at an awards ceremony in Yorkshire last week, John Mulkerrin, CEO of Quotes4Charity, said it was too early to say if the legal format was a success.

Mulkerrin, who founded  the CIC Association to support CICs on their behalf, called for Campbell not to ‘throw the baby out with the bath water'. He urged Campbell to join the CIC Association where his views on the shortcomings of the CIC model could influence its lobbying efforts.

Campbell, who has set up the Bright Ideas Trust to encourage young social entrepreneurs, had said: ‘I have a massive problem with CICs. They restrict me from creating real value, which doesn't make any sense. My agenda is to make social enterprise the business model and CIC does not add to this.'

Mulkerrin said while it was ‘fantastic' that a high profile figure like Campbell was raising awareness and stimulating debate on how well the CIC legislation is performing, his comments were prematurely negative.

‘The number of CICs already incorporated so far has exceeded expectations, which suggests it's attractive. However, there are a lot of challenges that need to be addressed along the way, not least the issue of raising finance.

‘Tim's comments get to the heart of the matter - how do we attract the capital inflows required to maximize the potential of CICs, while satisfying the asset lock, which ensures the primacy of community benefit?

‘While it's still early days, evidence is also starting to appear that the asset lock, including the dividend cap, is definitely a problem for some, but is not necessarily a barrier to investment.'

Mulkerrin added: ‘Building new pathways between CICs and investors is vital in ensuring a bright future for CICs and I hope Tim will join the new CIC Association and help us achieve that.

‘My meetings so far with banks, social venture capital and support organisations have been very productive, and I'm confident that with the right support we'll overcome the unique challenges that face CICs.'

The CIC Association, which is free to join for CIC members, is due to launch a website next month.

For more information, email john@cicassociation.org.uk