As Honorary Treasurer and Chairman, and on behalf of the BMFA Council, we need to let members know about some pressures on BMFA finances. As a not-for-profit company our aim has always been to keep the cost of membership as low as possible whilst fulfilling our financial obligations and ensuring that we do not incur a loss at the end of year. This invariably carries some risk. This and next years’ budgets have come under significant pressure and there are two main reasons for this - Insurance Claims and Membership Numbers.
Our annual insurance premium totals almost £400,000 (around 1/3 of our total expenditure). If our record of insurance claims is below a certain threshold we receive a rebate from the underwriter. This can be likened to a No-Claims Discount on car insurance. In recent years the rebate has exceeded £30,000 and budgets have been set on the assumption that this sum will be forthcoming. The 2017 figure (paid in this financial year) was £3,000 lower than anticipated and we have been warned by our insurers that we may not reach the threshold for any rebate for 2018. This is due to a significant increase in the number and cost of claims as Manny has explained in more detail in his Chacksfield Chat column in the forthcoming issue of the BMFA NEWS. It’s also possible that premiums could rise as a consequence.
The BMFA’s primary source of income is membership fees and assumptions have to be made on the likely number of members when setting each year’s budget. There is always some turnover of members but usually the number of joiners roughly equates to those who don’t renew. At the end of 2017 our membership stood at 35,200. The current budget anticipated a small drop to 35,000. However, whilst renewals have stayed largely the same and the number of registered clubs has actually risen, fewer new people have joined and we are likely to finish the year at little more than 34,000. At £34 per member this makes a big hole in what should have been a balanced budget. With fewer members there are some savings on insurance premiums, printing and distribution costs but the net impact will be in the region of £20,000. Although we have significantly stepped up our PR this year in an effort to attract new members we can’t guarantee that the downward trend in membership, in which the BMFA is not alone, will not continue. If every club recruited just one more member we would stem the tide!
Faced with the prospect of fewer members, no insurance rebate and with the requirement to offset the expected loss in the current financial year (and a small deficit from the previous year), we still have to balance the budget. We have looked closely at all of our expenditure and opportunities have been taken to make savings. However, in order to ensure that we remain ‘in the black’ the Council will be proposing to the AGM that Senior membership increases to £38. At just 73 pence per week, we believe that this still represents excellent value; the increase of £4 is little more than the price of a pint of beer. Remember, BMFA membership is not just about insurance: the support that we offer both to individual members and clubs when needed can be of huge importance. Furthermore, without our strength in numbers and reputation gained over many years giving us credibility when negotiating with regulators in both the UK and Europe, our freedom to enjoy our sport in the way we do now would almost certainly have been curtailed by legislation.
Keith Lomax FSMAE Ian Pallister FSMAE
Honorary Treasurer Chairman