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Membership Levy 2024

As I said in my last report, the RPRA has been underfunded for many years and has been subsidised by the sales of the BHW. Due to the nature of the publishing business and the drop in membership leading to an equal drop in the circulation numbers of the BHW, that subsidy has faltered to the point of our assets being drained. Those assets remaining from the sale of The Reddings after the purchase of the property at Stonehouse did make a small improvement for a year, although the subsequent year suffered the loss of key staff during the relocation process, and as the CEO along with the Finance Manager who also left the RPRA, it has proved very difficult to keep a solid view of the finances. The BHW must go through a restructure to maximise profits and although that process is taking place, the fact is that the RPRA subscriptions to its members has been held at an artificially low rate due to the foresight of preceding decisions to establish the BHW to be the voice of the RPRA and the jewel in the crown of the RPRA as a business. 

The financial year end of both the RPRA and BHW is on the 31st October and the balance sheet is consolidated. After everything is accounted for up to the end of October, the auditors are called in during November and they spend two to three weeks going through all the books before presenting the consolidated balance sheet to the finance committee around the second week of December – it was at that time in 2023 that we were told the RPRA had 18 months to two years at the present rate of underfunding. The total income of the RPRA just about covered the wage bill of the staff let alone other expenditures, which would normally have been subsidised by the profits of the BHW, as that has also made a loss for the second year. 

As members of the RPRA, we hold our meetings through the closed season and all propositions begin in the local clubs around October and November; if any member wishes to make a proposition to increase subscriptions, they would refer to Rule 141: “Should any member of the RPRA wish to make a proposal to alter or insert a new rule, they must submit the proposition in writing to their Organisation secretary. The secretary will then circulate the proposals to all members of the Organisation giving 7 days’ notice of the meeting. Should the proposition be carried, the Organisation secretary will forward them to their local Region secretary who will in turn circulate them to all Organisations affiliated to the Region. Any proposition that is carried by the Region will be sent to the Chief Executive, to be included at the AGM of Council. Council may submit propositions to the Chief Executive, not less than 42 days prior to the date of an annual general meeting of the Council. Any such proposal must submit the full text of any rule proposed to be revised as it would if the proposal was accepted.”

No proposition to increase the subscription came in for the 2024 AGM and we were faced with the prospect of another huge loss to our assets, so a further financial committee zoom meeting was held in January in which it was felt that our hands were tied by the constitution as we are a member led organisation, and the grave financial situation was presented to the council at the recent February council meeting held after the AGM. It was suggested that the RPRA and the BHW should not be a consolidated balance sheet, both should now stand alone to give a true indication of the financial situation of both, and it was passed under Rule 142 that our subscription rate should be increased to prevent the RPRA having the real prospect of having to call in the receivers in the future. The council deliberated hard, with the sole purpose of ensuring the continuation of the RPRA, and it was considered that the subscriptions members were paying at present would not meet with the financial requirements of the organisation, and a further levy of £20 per member would be required for 2024, as well as the continued restructure of the BHW to prevent further losses in Welshpool. This is not what the council wanted to do, it was a decision forced upon them and is due to the processes of our constitution and falling sales of the BHW. There are many other areas within our sport which require immediate attention, we can all see that, first and foremost we must address the underfunding of the RPRA which has to be our highest priority.

This decision has presented us with the issue of collecting in the levy, especially as all the region secretaries had already collected in the £15 per member subscription plus £2 insurance. Following a Special Meeting of the council called by the President under Rule 51, on the 29th of February it was proposed, seconded and passed that the levy shall be due to all region secretaries by the 1st May 2024. The levy shall be £20, or £18 for those adult members who had paid their insurance contribution of £2, as Rule 26 was deleted, and we must state that all junior members do not pay the levy. There may be an influx of partnerships being dissolved or altered due to the levy, and at this point I can only refer our secretaries to Rules 28 and 162. 

Chris Sutton

Now that the insurance policy has been discontinued, our previous insurers – Towergate Insurance Brokers – have provided a form for clubs wishing to enquire about club insurance, which can be downloaded here





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