We’ve gathered together some of the most frequently asked questions about Level here. If your questions isn’t answered, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Level is a new way of starting a business together, for 2 or more independent professionals who want to work on an equal, democratic basis, while retaining their autonomy and flexibility.
We provide the means to quickly and efficiently set up a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) with equal democratic ownership, and equal capital stakes, ensuring that work is done on a balanced, even basis, with no external shareholders influencing decisions.
Using our system, you and your partners could create a Level in around 15 minutes, and have it registered at Companies House within two working days.
On the whole, Level works like most businesses – day to day operational decisions will be made by the people contracted to work for the business, which may be the members or others, while major governance decisions will be made by the membership – those who signed up to start the business or who join subsequently.
The difference with how major decisions are made in many traditional businesses, is that in a Level they are made democratically, on a one member one vote basis. The members can meet as often as is practically required to make these decisions in accordance with the needs of the business.
As all members are designated members they are responsible for:
- registering the business for Self Assessment with HMRC – you must also register separately as an individual
- registering the partnership for VAT if you expect your business’s sales to be more than £85,000 a year
- keep accounting records
- appointing an auditor if needed
- preparing, signing and sending annual accounts to Companies House (your accountant should be able to help with this)
- send a confirmation statement (previously annual return) to Companies House
Designated members (as above, we recommend you ask your accountant)
- telling Companies House about any changes (for example, to the registered name or address, or members)
- acting for the LLP if it’s wound up and dissolved
Designated members can be prosecuted if they don’t meet their legal obligations. The LLP can also be taken off the register.
A member is an individual who is attracted by the benefits of using the co-operatively owned business’s services and understands its purpose and how this meets their social, cultural and economic needs. The benefits will vary depending on why the co-operative exists and the member needs it is set up to meet. For example, it may be more cost effective for a group of freelancers to work together and/or working as a co-operative may mean that individuals gain access to a wider and more diverse market by pooling the skills of all the members. By agreeing to become a member, an individual agrees to be bound by the membership agreement and participate in the operation of the co-op for the benefit of the all the members – not just his/her own work.
The rights and responsibilities of limited liability partnership members to one another and the LLP are set out in the LLP agreement:
- All members are entitled to an equal share in the LLP’s capital and profits
- Every member may take part in management of the LLP
- No member is entitled to remuneration for acting in the business or management of the LLP
A new member can only be introduced with the unanimous consent of all existing members
- Ordinary business matters can be decided by simple majority of the members
- Conversely, matters affecting the nature of the LLP’s business require the consent of all members
- All members have the right to inspect the LLP’s statutory records
Anyone who does work with your registered Level but is not an employee can be a member of it. The existing members of the Level can set criteria for membership, and retain the ultimate say over who becomes a member.
All members have to be at least 16 and not disqualified from acting as a director or an undischarged bankrupt.
Level is a project built by a coalition aiming to create a new streamlined and attractive way of forming a democratically owned business designed for the future of work.
Funding for this project was provided by Co-operatives UK, in association with Apparatus.
More and more people are working independently – and often enjoying the benefits and flexibility of that way of working. But when it comes to starting a business together as independent professionals, the structures available are either based on outdated and unfair principles, or can entail a lot of work to establish. The array of options available can also be overwhelming.
We designed Level to provide a single, quick and simple way of starting a business which independent professional can use as a vehicle for working together, based on equal, democratic ownership, while retaining their autonomy and flexibility.
Yes – our partners at Co-operatives UK have a set of experts in a range of fields including Legal, Governance, and HR who would be happy to help.
If you opt for membership of Co-operatives UK as part of the process of setting up your level (offered free currently), then you will gain immediate access to expert advice and resources to help you navigate your first year as a co-operative business as well as discounted training sessions and events. For more information on member benefits vist uk.coop .
Yes, go ahead. We envision a future where a Level becomes the standard way for independent professionals to create businesses together.
Not if you are a member. Non-members are free to be employed by a Level.
No, none. Anything legal…
Formally speaking, a Level is a co-operatively owned Limited Liability Partnership. You can read more about LLPs here.
Being a co-operative ensures equal, democratic ownership, and protection from external shareholders influencing business decisions. It also means access to a prosperous community of other co-operatively owned businesses, committed to the same principles and ways of trading.
If you choose to become a member of Co-operatives UK (offered for free as part of the formation process), you will gain access to a network of co-operative businesses across the country.