Chief Commissioner's blog| Looking after the pennies


Wayne takes a look at the role of the Finance Committee, having joined them for one of their regular quarterly meetings on Saturday.

Ensuring our finances are sound and our assets are properly looked after are important objectives underpinning our success; not just because good governance is important to maintain our reputation, but also because we need resources (people, money and services) to support local Scouting and our infrastructure.

A few things you may not know

The Finance Committee’s remit is broad and some responsibilities are more obvious than others. A look at our financial statements gives a flavour of how complex some of those are. Some less obvious aspects include the following facts:

  • Only 60% of our expenditure is covered by the membership fee, with the balance generated through commercial activities, fundraising and investment income
  • We provide loans, presently £1.4m, to local headquarter development projects and distribute grants of more than £700k p.a. to support local Scouting directly
  • We manage a diverse property portfolio (from Baden-Powell House, Gilwell Park, Lancing, National Activity Centres and a mixture of others)
  • 52% of our costs (eg excluding trading expenditure etc) are spent on staff costs
  • We run our own insurance liability programme and property and equipment cover, and support the Movement with things like travel, personal accident and other tailored services, meaning that insurance generates a net surplus income
  • Scout Shops runs the World Scout Shop on behalf of WOSM, where we share any trading income through supporting world members
  • Our restricted and general reserves mean that we have an investment portfolio of £17m managed professionally and which is overseen by a specialist advisory group of the Finance Committee
  • We offer a deposit service for local Scouting where we can offer better returns through combining deposits – although this doesn’t work well in low interest periods

Investing for the future

The biggest returns, however, come from ensuring we achieve our mission and objectives of helping young people, so the main purpose of the March meeting is to approve the budget for the coming financial year. As you will know, the preparation of these has been ongoing for a month or two and so the committee was able to focus on some of the key strategic challenges and priorities to make its recommendations to the Board. The Board will finally approve in three weeks’ time, all being well.

Wayne Bulpitt, UK Chief Commissioner

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