Our finances and the membership fee for 2023-24
Each year, we like to update you on the position of the UK HQ finances and announce the UK HQ membership fee for the upcoming year.
Over the last year, we’ve experienced some challenges as we look to bounce back from the pandemic and get back working towards an ideal operating model.
It’s clear from our 2022 Census figures that the membership numbers are growing, however forecasts are showing that it may take us longer than the three years estimated to reach our pre-pandemic figures.
Last year we took the difficult decision to sell Baden-Powell House and Scout Adventures Downe campsite. We announced our plans to retain 12 months of operating costs in our reserves to protect the movement against any future events which could affect us in similar scale to the pandemic. This amounts to £28 million.
We’ve made sure that we’re well placed to support the movement at a time when young people need us the most. This was particularly evident in our support for those communities impacted most by the pandemic, offering a Recovery Fund for the past two years. This fund was made from the £1.50 ring-fenced from the 2021-22 UK HQ membership fee, our collective fundraising efforts for Race Round the World, and the generous support from The Pears Foundation.
Our priority has been to support you, our volunteers. We’ve experienced some challenges due to staff shortages and the difficult recruitment market, but our main priority has been to maintain and enhance our services and will continue to do so, as the movement bounces back.
We also set aside £8 million to invest in delivering our Skills for Life plan, including targeting membership growth, particularly in the communities most affected by the pandemic.
Our three year projection of income, expenditure and net deficits shows that we’re on course to balance our books and have a marginal surplus by 2025-26. While this is good news, with inflation pressures our forecasts show that we need to prepare for rising costs while still investing in attracting and retaining dedicated staff to support you in delivering our Skills for Life strategy.
UK Headquarters Membership fee and support
Our UK HQ membership fee is vital in covering essential ongoing costs to support the movement, such as helping to cover increasing operating costs to manage safety and safeguarding. The fee also goes to support services such as programme, volunteer training and insurance for all members. You can view full details on how the fee is spent here.
In the last year (2022-23) we reduced the UK HQ membership fee, however given the financial outlook and uncertainty around cost pressures we’re having to increase the fee slightly to £36, which is significantly less than inflation but helps towards those operational pressures. This amount will be £35.50 if payment is made by 23 April 2023.
It’s also important to note that this fee relates to the services provided by the UK Headquarters. Each Nation HQ, County/Area/Region, District and Group will be reviewing their own financial situation, so the amount you pay per youth member may differ. We’re sure you’ll hear about the membership fee you have to pay for your area soon.
Whilst we’re aware that increases are never positive, we’ve taken every action to keep the increase as low as practical to keep Scouts as affordable for young people at a time that we know many parents/carers will be making difficult decisions about rising costs for food and fuel. This increase is significantly below current inflation rates but still helps contribute to our increasing running costs, so we can retain a stable financial position for the long term.
We’d like to send our whole-hearted thanks to every adult volunteer for the support and optimism you offer to Scouts. It’s a difficult time with rising costs affecting families and individuals across the UK. We’re committed to continue to offer you support as volunteers and more importantly offer our young people brilliant experiences and the opportunities to learn skills for life.