Here's a guide produced by the Department for Business Innovation and Skills on Community Interest Companies.
Here's an extract from the guide, you can download the full guide here:
CICs are a new type of limited company for people wishing to establish businesses which trade with a social purpose, or to carry on other activities for the benefit of the community.
Many social enterprises and community organisations are already incorporated as companies (usually limited by guarantee), while others, such as co-operatives, take the form of industrial and provident societies. Many operate less formal legal structures, for example, with assets held on their behalf by trustees.
The CIC is a valuable addition to these forms and particularly suitable for those who wish to work within the relative freedom of the familiar limited company framework without either the private profit motive or charity status. They are more flexible than some other legal forms and there are a variety of capital structures available to meet the needs of members and the organisation.
The CIC has proven attractive to a wide range of individuals and organisations wishing to participate in social enterprises. CICs are a useful vehicle for enterprises of all sizes from a small community care project to a large organisation providing international fair-trade type distribution systems for the benefit of overseas producers.
CICs are a useful legal form for holding local assets such as community halls and facilities, as well as for trading in a conventional sense through
12the provision of goods and services, either directly to the public and organisations or through contracts with service providers.