GL & Commissioners – Questions Answered

In the past couple of days many Scouters received a mailing from National Office with a short report on the  recent Group Leaders and Commissioners Conference.

The text of the mailing can be read here

The attached document comprised a foreword by the Chairperson of the Board as well as a collated list of questions which had been raised along with the Boards responses to them.

The full text of that document can be read here

Some reformatting of the document led to a slimmed down version comprising 10 pages, this may make for a more convenient read. In the reformatting we omitted the pages containing the staff structures as this was enlarging the file size considerably and also causing some formatting issues, they can be viewed in the original version above if required. We also re-sequenced the topics such that those relating to governance are now to the top and other relating to more operational matters are towards the end.

This slimmed down document can be read here

Each of us will, no doubt, take various things from the questions and from the answers provided. Here is a summary of what I took from them, with my own observations in italics:

  • The Board undertook a review of Going Concern for what they describe as an extended time, out to end of January 2025. On the face of it, this would appear to be a short term view and not a medium or longer term view.
  • In the foreword, the Chairperson draws attention to a “circa 250k” surplus of income in the year ending August 2022, as compared to a 465k surplus of spending in the previous financial year. In fact a reading of the financial report released to us indicates the surplus was actually 242k and, in making this comparison, the chairperson does not appear to have taken account of the transfer in 2022 of 506k from short term creditors to the provision. (See our recent article re. the accounts here)
  • Insurance cover for historic sex abuse cases is disputed by the insurers and the matter is at arbitration, discovery is almost complete and the Board anticipate an outcome sometime in 2024. In the meantime the accounts show a 7.4m provision for costs associated with these cases, with no assets to cover that provision.
  • The AGM (essentially 2023 AGM) is being held electronically this weekend and speakers on any agenda item are limited to 5 for the purposes of efficiency. Electronic meetings, originally imposed by Public Health Restrictions, are no doubt more efficient, but they are hardly an effective vehicle for promoting adequate discussion and informed decision-making.
  • The chairperson anticipates the next AGM will take place in September 2024, although this is dependent on the Board’s workplan. The board will look at an option to link the AGM with another event so that it may take place in-person. Perhaps hybrid should become the norm, providing the option to attend in person or to join electronically?
  • In the past months two external (co-opted) Board members stepped down shortly after their appointments, while another person has recently been co-opted. The question as to why the two left was not answered.
  • Two directors are accused of having an agenda to disrupt the work of the Board, the other Board members have lost confidence in them and have “suspended” them. It is not apparent that there is any basis in company law or provision of our constitution to enable this.
  • The Board would like to have a greater proportion of people on the Board who are not from within the organisation and may examine how to achieve this. The constitution at present enables the Board to co-opt up to three such people while allowing for 10 Directors to be elected via AGM, there does not appear to be anything to prohibit a non-member from being elected in this way.
  • The Board has set a target for membership growth of 5,000 per year for three years, their current outlook for this year is 6% to 8% (so about 2,800?). It was not clarified what actual steps are being taken at this time to promote the planned growth.
  • The Board is considering what should be done concerning Scout Groups not registering with the Charities Regulator. One would hope that the Board will find a way to understand the reasons why Scout Groups are reluctant and try to find solutions for the Scout Groups issues. 


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