Dear Members, Parents & Guardians,

As I indicated at the Group Awards Night in November, from 1 January 2021 we planned to increase our membership subscriptions for the Group. At no time do we like to increase our Subs however this increase is necessary in order for the Group to continue to function. We had planned to increase our Subs from £28 per member per term, to £34 per member per term. I can however indicate that we have deferred this increase till after Easter 2021 given the Island’s circuit breaker lockdown and the impact that this may have had on finances.

So why the increase? We have not substantially increased our Subs since 2012, we made a small increase in 2018. We do not strive to make any profit from the running of the Scout Group, we meet the costs of running the Group and that is it. This is why when we need to spend monies on building works and other capital expenditure, we run fundraising activities and apply for funding from a variety of organisations. For a little while now we had been looking to make a small increase to our Subs to meet the increased cost of running the Group. Utilities and badges for example are more expensive than they used to be, with each badge now costing roughly 80p. We had planned to increase our Subs in May 2020. With Covid and the lockdown, we decided to defer the increase.

During the Covid lockdown, Scout Association HQ in the UK (TSA) announced that it was to increase the annual capitation it charges Scout Groups. Capitation is our largest expense, it covers all insurance for members and activities, it covers Leader training, programme support, safeguarding and all the administrative costs that come with running the UK’s largest co-educational youth organisation. Similarly, to 2nd Onchan, TSA have not made a large increase to capitation for some time.

To be transparent, the costs of running TSA have increased dramatically in the last couple of years. From increased legal claims to increased regulation, the cost of running TSA has increased and these are not costs that are recoverable. For example, TSA now employs 3 people full time simply to handle Subject Access Requests. Needing to save money, in the last year or so TSA has made a number of staff redundant and made a number of other cuts saving approximately £2.3 million per year. Additionally, they are in the process of selling two key assets, a Scout Activity Centre in Kent, and a property in central London.

Whilst these steps will assist, TSA have determined that it must now increase its capitation to pass some of these costs onto the end user, our Members. This has been considered a last option after all others. All of these steps will help ensure Scouting can continue to stably function. However, all of these steps are steps taken before any impact from Covid-19 can be considered, remembering that no UK Groups can meet at present.

What this means, is that the amount which 2nd Onchan will pay in capitation has now increased by £7.50 and we have no other option than to pass this onto our Members.

In light of all this information, Steve White (Assistant Group Scout Leader), Stephen Edwards (Group Treasurer) and I sat down to discuss the impacts which such increase would have on 2nd Onchan, particularly given our own planned increase. Stephen, an Accountant by trade, spend significant time considering all of our costs at present and planned increases in those over the next 10 years, producing a detailed financial forecast for the Group, something we would ordinarily have paid thousands of pounds for. After much deliberation we determined that our Subs would have to increase from £28 to £34 per term in order to meet the costs of running the Group. Without any increase, the Group would simply fail, and this increase represents the smallest possible increase we can realistically make. We shall however continue to review the position on an annual basis and will announce whether Subs will remain at £34 or whether there may be an increase in December/January of each year. I would reiterate that this increase is nothing to do with Covid, thanks to donations and running over the summer holidays, the Group weathered Covid well.

This position is not unique to 2nd Onchan, all Scout Groups around the Island are increasing their Subs and to similar levels to us.

In light of the Island’s circuit breaker lockdown, we have again decided to defer the increase to our members. To do so, we have been extremely fortunate to have received a private donation to the Group which covers the £6 increase for each of our members this term and we pass on our heartfelt thanks for their generosity. As such the increase will be brought in from Easter 2021.

For this term we have prorated our Subs from £28 to £19 representing that we are only able to meet face-to-face for two thirds of the term.

We know that Scouting remains one of the cheapest organisations for our Members to be a part of with individual meetings costing roughly £2.80. We are able to ensure this because everyone associated with the Group is a volunteer and gives their time freely. We also successfully hire out our Hall which substantially subsidises the costs to our Members. Notwithstanding that, we appreciate that some of our Members experience financial hardship and that any increase will be difficult for them when struggling already. For anyone who may be adversely impacted by this increase, please do reach out to myself or your child’s section leader.

Scouting is for everyone, irrespective of financial background and as a Group we will work with anyone in financial hardship to ensure that their children can remain fully active members of the Group. I appreciate these conversations can be difficult, but we will discuss matters in the strictest confidence.

I know the above provides a lot of information and will take some time to digest. I am more than happy, so too is Stephen, to discuss this increase to any individual and provide more information – we wish to be as transparent as possible. The news from TSA is shocking but we have every faith in Scouting’s leadership team to rebalance the books ensuring a strong and stable future. 2nd Onchan is in a good financial position at present but we do need to affect this increase.

The increase, whilst unwanted, will allow Onchan to continue to function as it is, offering fantastic activities and adventures for our Members ensuring they develop key skills for life. 2nd Onchan is the biggest and best Scout Group on the Island, second to none, and we strive every week to maintain that position.

Yours in Scouting,

Alex Armstrong

Group Scout Leader