Guide for the Group Treasurer
You can see the allocated tasks for the Treasurer in the Trustee Board Team Description. We will explore some tasks in more detail in this section.
The rules of the Scouts relating to finance
POR contains the rules of The Scout Association. They are designed with the benefit of a great deal of experience to ensure the Scouts remain on a sound footing.
The rules can appear complex in some areas, so you should not be afraid to ask the District Treasurer or other Group Treasurers for further information and advice. POR provides a central set of guidelines and has been put together based on the experience of others; it should therefore be followed at all times. Members of the Group Trustee Board are responsible for ensuring that the Group is working within these guidelines and in accordance with the key policies of the Association.
Your first steps as Group Treasurer
Having collected all the books and documentation from your predecessor, you will need to look through these to make sure you understand how the records of all transactions have previously been kept. Ensure that you have all past bank statements, accounts and receipts. You will then be able to decide if you want to continue along the same lines or make changes in the reporting format to improve the clarity of the figures.
One of your first steps should be to inform the bank(s) of your new role and complete a mandate to change the signature and correspondence address from the previous Treasurer to yourself. POR does not specify who should be the bank signatories.
The account(s) will be operated by the Group Treasurer and other persons authorised by the Group Trustee Board.
Those that are authorised to be bank signatories will have to sign the bank mandate form. This will need to be supported by a simple statement signed by the Group Chair confirming that the ‘Articles of Association’ for your Scout Group is Policy, Organisation and Rules of The Scout Association. You will need to visit the bank with a form of identification, normally a passport or driving licence, together with a utility bill or personal bank statement which shows your current address. Further information on who should be signatories to the bank accounts can be found in section 3.2.2.
Once the changes have been confirmed and agreed (and this should be given high priority) you should ensure that bank statements are sent to you on a regular basis. Look at the frequency the previous treasurer received them and decide if you wish to adjust the frequency or date they are received. Normal practice is to receive monthly statements for current accounts with quarterly statements for other deposit accounts.
You may feel it necessary to change banks and again this will require forms to be completed at both banks. You should speak to your Trustee Board before starting this task and fully explain your reasons for change.
As well as advising the bank of the change of signatories and addresses, you will need to notify other regulatory authorities of the new point of contact, such as the relevant charity regulator and HM Revenue and Customs (if the Group is registered for VAT).
Your next step should be to make sure all Scout Group colleagues likely to require or collect cash (eg section leaders) know that you are the new treasurer. Make sure that all transactions going in or out have full documentation to support the debit or credit so you know where to put the entry in the accounting system you adopt.
Set up a book-keeping system, or continue with existing practices, whichever you feel most comfortable with. This could be on a spreadsheet, book entry system or a combination of both. If kept electronically, remember to back up files regularly. It's
important to keep the format simple and produce regular statements, showing income and expenditure updates. Liaise with the Group Secretary about meeting dates and establish when you are expected to provide reports to the Group Trustee Board. If you have any questions, speak to your District Treasurer who will be able to help you.
The charity regulators require all charities, including Scout Groups, to have formal policies, which have been agreed by the Group Trustees, for the following:
For many Scout Groups these are likely to exist already and to have been previously agreed by the Group Trustee Board.
As Treasurer, one of your first tasks will need to be to ensure this is the case and to familiarise yourself with them.
If no policies currently exist then they should be drawn up and agreed by the Group Trustee Board.
Income and expenditure
Acting as Group Treasurer is all too often seen as a reactive role; taking in money when it's raised and paying it out when bills arrive. This may work for a while, but sooner or later a bill will arrive before the funds.
The Trustee Board and others member of the Group and District will have ideas on how to raise money. A budget will map out everyone’s plans, and help ensure that the account balance and can be monitored through the year. It will ensure that you are not faced with the embarrassment of having to say that there are not enough funds to pay a bill.
Typical sources of income will be:
- membership subscriptions which could be paid weekly, termly or annually
- interest on investments
- Gift Aid
- hiring/leasing property.
Typical expenses will be:
- annual membership subscription payment to the District
- activity expenses for the sections (which may be handled by sectional treasurers)
- subsidy of major events
- expenses to leaders and supporters
- training fees
- purchases of equipment
- meeting arrangements and their associated costs (ie AGM costs)
- rent, if you use other people’s premises, or the costs of running your own Headquarters, which might include:
- gas, electricity and water
- repairs and/or improvements
- ground rent.
Remember to include when income is likely to be received and when outgoings are likely to occur. It's no good having a budget which balances out by the end of the year if you have been in the red for much of the period.
One of the most important tasks you will need to carry out is to make sure all entries in and out of the accounts are properly recorded on your system and are fully documented in a planned and methodical way. Try to complete entries immediately as a request for money arrives and certainly no later than 24 hours after. In this way a routine is quickly formed and the tasks for the Group Treasurer become much simpler. Remember, the longer the delay, the more likely you will be to forget something.
Sometimes it will not be possible to access your accounts when needed, so it may also be helpful to keep a small notebook on you so you can jot down any cash/cheques received during Trustee Board meetings or any events you attend.
Accounts from previous years will give you a guide of the typical headings for income and expenditure. If doing manually, use a good analytical account book, allowing some spare space for new headings. Alternatively, spreadsheets or a basic
accounting package could be used. Don’t be tempted to make do with something which is unsuitable.
Statement of account and all accounting records must be kept for at least six years from the end of the financial year in which they are made.
The Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) Accounting and Reporting by Charities is a key document published by the charity regulators. It states the rules regarding the preparation of charity accounts and guidance on how to comply with these rules. For further information please refer to The Charities SORP.
A Group bank account is the best practical way to ensure that the activities of the Scout Group can be paid for and expenses reimbursed. Bank accounts must be held in the name of the Scout Group; as it is forbidden for money to be held in the private bank accounts of individuals. All bank accounts must operate with a minimum of two signatories. Where online banking is available, this too must be set up with actual dual authorisation.
There are currently no rules which affect your choice of bank, and Groups will normally use a bank which is convenient given the Group’s location and similar issues.
Many Groups keep separate bank accounts for each of their sections, while others have just one account for the whole Group.
This decision is left to the Group Trustee Board, as is the extent to which the funds of each particular section are ringfenced. The Group Trustee Board will need to find the correct balance between strong central controls which is possible with a single bank account controlled by key Trustees, compared with the ease of operation where each section operates its own account.
The Group account(s) must be operated by the Group Treasurer and other persons authorised by the Group Trustee Board, with a minimum of two signatures required for any withdrawal. If a Group holds separate accounts for its sections it will probably choose to have leaders within each section as signatories, but it's important that the Group Treasurer is a signatory on every account held by the Group. This also ensures that the Group Treasurer can deal directly with the bank if communication with the leaders becomes difficult.
The requirement for two signatures for any withdrawal exists to safeguard you as an individual, the Scout Group and the Scouts in general. This requirement is defined in POR, and in charity regulators guidance. Members of the Group Trustee Board failing to operate the system correctly may (in their capacity as trustees) find themselves personally liable for any losses. A common cause of large embezzlements of Scout Group funds is trustees not using the two signature system sensibly or honestly.
- Do not pre-date or post-date cheques
- Ensure safe storage of cheque books, and ensure all stubs are fully completed
- Do not sign a blank cheque
- Before signing, the invoice should always be shown so that the accuracy of the cheque is confirmed
- Arrange for monthly bank statements. These should be checked and reconciled against the account book so that any error is spotted quickly.
POR requires that, to safeguard charity funds from misuse, two signatures are needed to authorise any payment to a third party. Internet banking needs to provide the electronic equivalent of this, i.e. dual, secure logins to authorise transactions. The Charity Commission for England & Wales publication CC8 Internal Financial Controls for Charities includes guidance for charities on the use of electronic banking. Ask your bank what dual authority options they provide, and whether this involves additional charges. Although most banks do have products available which give dual authority control over payments, the charges are often too high to interest a Scout Group.
The amount of money that a Group should keep in its account depends on the precise circumstances. You will need enough for day-to-day running costs, along with the repair and replacement of equipment and a little extra for any emergencies. This will vary from Group to Group and from year to year.
You may also be holding funds that you've been raising towards a special trip or capital project. There is no limit on the amount of fundraising that you can do. The charity regulators may raise concerns with Group trustees if the Group was holding a large amount of money that it could not use to further the charity’s aims
All monies received should be paid into the Group’s bank account on receipt. The only exception to this is when an immediate payment is required to be made in cash.
You may need to hold cash briefly so a good solid cash box will ensure that there is no risk of Group and personal money becoming mixed up.
Always issue a receipt from a duplicate receipt book, numbering the receipt. Your copy will act as a point of reference should you or others need to raise a query. Include sufficient details on the receipt or accompanying documents so that at the end of the year checks can be made easily. Include the receipt number against the book keeping entry.
Charity law requires charities to distinguish, in their accounting records, between restricted and unrestricted income and expenditure.
Restricted income is where a donor gives money for a specific purpose. For example if you receive a donation of £1,000 to take the Cub Pack on a weekend camping trip, the funds will be restricted for this specific purpose. In accepting this income you agree under trust law to spend it in accordance with the restriction. Restricted expenditure is any money spent in accordance with the terms of restricted income; in the above example that would mean spending the £1,000 on the Cub Scout camping trip (including costs related to the trip such as transport).
Unrestricted income and expenditure are any funds that do not have such a restriction.
The Scout Association carries out an annual registration and census in January. It does so in order to establish the number of young people and adults in Scouting – by section, Group, District and County. The numbers identified in the census are used
as the basis for the renewal of the Group’s registration and payments of the annual membership fee.
A Scout Group will be expected to pay the annual membership fee by April. There is usually a discount for prompt payment.
In addition to the national fee there is likely to be a small levy charge for both the District and County to cover the costs of the support they provide.
Groups will operate different policies with regard to how this money is raised. It could be:
- part of a regular (weekly or termly) membership fee paid by members
- paid annually by members
- raised as part of general Group fundraising.
The key point to remember is that the money must be paid to secure membership of The Scout Association and the corresponding benefits, such as insurance, for the coming year.
Gift Aid is a simple government initiative which allows you to increase the value of your donations at no extra cost to you. HM Revenue and Customs regards membership fees as ‘donations’. Therefore Groups can claim Gift Aid on these. You can also get Gift Aid on money donated for sponsored events. Gift Aid is not available on camp or Jamboree fees because the benefit to the ‘donor’ is regarded as too high to qualify for the scheme.
As of April 2011 for every pound donated you can claim an extra 25 pence from HM Revenue and Customs, helping your donations go further. In real terms, this means that if a Group had 50 members, paying £60 per year, it would give them a total annual income of £3,000. Assuming all of the parents/guardians are taxpayers then the potential Gift Aid is around £750 per year.
If you have not claimed Gift Aid before, your Group must be registered with HM Revenue and Customs. Scout Groups required to complete a form called CHA1. Read the Government guidance on claiming Gift Aid.
You are entitled to claim back the previous four years of contributions. Using the example above, this could give you a one-off payment of £3,000.
In the past we have found that many Groups will spend a great deal of time on a grant application with no guarantee of a return. Gift Aid does not take anywhere near the amount of time to administer as a standard grant application, and income is guaranteed, yet not everyone is doing it.
Gift Aid can be collected on small cash donations up to £2,000 without the donor filling out a Gift Aid declaration. This means that a bucket collection done during a Scout fireworks display, for example, could have Gift Aid claimed so long as the amount is below £2,000.
There are a number of online portals you can use to collect donations (including membership fees which can help relieve administration, attract new donors and also help you to collect Gift Aid.
As Group Treasurer, you are responsible for all payments required to run the Group.
However, these must be authorised by the Group Trustee Board (or on their delegated authority). Some will be easy to fulfil as these may be regular payments to statutory authorities or to your County or UK Headquarters. Others may be to reimburse leaders for expenses incurred or to facilitate an activity that has been organised. Regular attendance at Trustee Board meetings will ensure that you are aware of future events and likely expenditure dates.
Payments will usually be made by cheque against a supporting document. This may be a bill, receipt or letter. Discourage cash payments as payments through the bank account are a great deal easier to track. If you do need to make a cash payment you will need a signed receipt.
It's again good practice to number each payment document and enter the number against the entry in the account book, spreadsheet or accounting package. Keep all the documents in order; sorting them by month can be useful. Remember that at the end of the year any audit/scrutiny of the accounts is going to go through all the paperwork.
It's a common misconception that charities, including Scout Groups, do not pay tax.
However, this is not the case. A Scout Group could be liable to pay both VAT and direct tax, depending on the size and type of income, costs and the specific circumstance the Group faces.
As a general rule Scout Groups will not have a large enough income to be VAT registered. This means it is unlikely they will ever be able to reclaim VAT expended.
Floats held by others will make your job more complicated. They will, however, be unavoidable unless you are going to be available everyday to receive and pay out money.
Each of the sections is likely to operate a float. They will use this to take in from the young people in membership fees and to pay out routine activity expenses.
The Group Treasurer should make arrangements to collect funds not immediately required for the running of the section. Doing this roughly monthly is sensible, more frequently if there is a big intake of money (eg after a big fundraising event).
Each float holder is responsible for keeping proper records which will be inspected and counted and must be produced at the request of the Group Treasurer. They should be inspected and counted at least once during each three month period.
Funds not immediately required should be transferred into a suitable investment account held in the name of the Group.
This is so that the Scouts can benefit from any interest which can be earned.
Remember to ensure that the account is designed for a charity so that unnecessary tax is not paid.
If the sums involved are large or the investment period is likely to be long you should take advice from an authorised financial adviser.
The Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FCSC) offers full compensation up to £85,000 (as of 01/01/2018) for savings held with authorised institutions. This compensation scheme applies to individuals and small businesses including charities.
Insurance can be a complicated topic and it is important to use up-to-date information, seek expert advice and not make assumptions. Unity (Scout Insurance Services) is the Association’s insurance broker and a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Scout Association. They provide specialist advice and insurance specifically for the Scouts.
Some covers are automatically provided by the Scouts as part of the Group’s registration. This cover is arranged centrally for Members by Unity (Scout Insurance Services). Full details are included in POR and on Unity’s website. For further information on all of these policies you can speak to Unity’s advisers.
The key policies are:
Personal Accident and Medical Expenses Policy
This policy provides limited benefits in the event of an injury during a Scout activity. It covers the Group’s Membership as shown on the annual census return together with new members joining during the year. Cover does not include:
- visits abroad, or
- non-members such as supporters, helpers, or instructors.
Arrangements can be made to include these situations and to supplement the basic level of cover.
Legal Liability Policy
This covers leaders and others in charge of youth Members against claims made by Members under their control, their parents or guardians, or by third parties, for injury, loss or damage at an authorised Scout activity. It also covers those responsible for the organisation and the running of Scout fundraising events in the same way.
The policy does not cover legal liability arising out of the ownership and/or driving/piloting of motor vehicles, aircraft and/or gliders. Nor does it fully cover liability for injuries to third parties and/or damage to third party property arising out of ownership or operation of boats. Climbing, abseiling equipment, zip-lines, aerial runways or flying foxes are not covered under this policy when being used by non-members.
Up-to-date information is available from Unity, who can arrange suitable additional insurance if required.
Trustee Indemnity Insurance
Since 2008 the Scouts has provided a national policy to cover the trustees of any Scout charity. That includes members of Trustee Boards for Scout Groups, Districts and Counties, as well as those who manage other Scout assets such as building or campsite committees.
The policy protects people who, having acted responsibly and honestly, find themselves being held to account and paying the consequences of these actions. It does not cover:
- criminal actions
- acts which the trustee(s) knew (or should reasonably have known) could result in a breach of trust.
The insurance provided by UK Headquarters protects the Members, but does not cover your Group’s assets.
Besides any money in the bank the Group is likely to have other assets. These may include:
- property and buildings
- contents and equipment
- money on the premises or collected during fundraising
- income for the Group
- motor vehicles such as minibuses, karts, quad bikes and off-road vehicles
- contents and fabric of rented meeting places
- watercraft such as boats, surfboards and dinghies.
You may also need to insure equipment that your Group hires or borrows for a short period.
Insurance should expressly cover equipment when it is:
- in use
- in transit
- in storage.
You may also need to consider insurance when it is lent out to other Scout Groups, Explorer Units, Guide Units or other parties.
Take care to ensure that ‘in storage’ covers where the item is actually kept, especially if it's not in the Group stores.
The Scouts operates in a unique way and so general ‘off the shelf’ insurance from external providers may not be suitable. In the event of a loss, if there is a gap in cover, often only discovered when a claim arises, the Group will have to fund the shortfall and could face serious financial consequences if significant. In such a situation, your stakeholders can also hold trustees personally liable for failing to perform their duties to adequately protect a Group’s assets, causing considerable financial and reputational distress.
It's the Group Treasurer’s responsibility to ensure that proper inventories are maintained and suitable insurance arranged with a reputable provider who understands the way the Scouts operate.
Unity can arrange bespoke insurance policies for the Scouts locally and can offer advice and arrange these covers for you.
Also, all income from Scout insurance spend with Unity is donated back to the Scouts, helping to keep membership costs down. It also helps to ensure that Unity can continue to provide free assistance and support to Scout Groups, Districts and Counties on wider related matters such as:
- advice on third party leases that Groups often need to sign when holding a scout event on their premises or using their facilities
- liability support for Members in the unfortunate event of an allegation by a parent or a third party made whilst taking part in the Scouts under their supervision.
Additionally, your Scout Group may need to purchase insurance to cover:
- Personal accident and medical expenses for non-members and helpers associated with your Group
- Trips abroad
- UK camps (cancellation and loss of deposit)
- Loss of Members’ personal effects during Scouting activities
An inventory is the basis of proper insurance. It sets out what is to be insured and can be used to help determine the value of each item. Any inventory will become out-of-date with the passage of time. It is good practice to update the inventory at the time of every change.
Insurance is usually provided on a new-for-old basis. So the amount you insure for should be the replacement value or rebuilding cost, no matter how old the item is or how you acquired it. In the case of equipment it makes good sense to include where each item is kept and, if not in the Group stores, who is responsible for its safe keeping.
If the Group has locally appointed a Quartermaster, the role of the Treasurer will be easier provided there is good liaison.
The Scout Association is incorporated by Royal Charter and is the umbrella membership organisation for Scouting in the United Kingdom. Each member Scout Group is an independent legal and charitable body in its own right with its own local governance.
England & Wales
Scout Groups only need to register with The Charity Commission for England & Wales if one or more the follow criteria are met;
- The Group's income is more than £100,000, or
- The Group has a permanent endowment, or
- The Group owns land or buildings.
- If the Scout Group has a permanent endowment or owns a building, it must be registered if its income is more than £5,000.
Scout Groups are only legally charities if registered with the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator. Scout Groups can choose to register with Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator if they pass the Scottish Charity Test.
Trustees of those Scout Groups that are not registered, follow POR as if they are charity trustees.
All Scout Groups must be registered with The Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.
Once a year
There are a few annual tasks that you will be required to organise and arrange. These are set out below and will require substantial input from you as Group Treasurer.
Just before the beginning of each financial year the Treasurer, working with the Group Scout Leader, should ask leaders to set out ideas of events to be held with their rough costings as well as items of expenditure that might be required for the following year.
This can then be matched against likely income from subscriptions and events so a budget can be prepared. This will help map out everyone’s plans and ensure that the Group will not be faced with the situation of having to say that there are not enough funds in the bank to pay the bill.
The annual budget should be approved by the Group Trustee Board. It's important to accept that it is the Group Scouters’ Meeting which decides both the programme for the young people and the need for equipment. The role of the Group Trustee Board is to resource the needs. If the needs are beyond the resources available it must be the Group Scouters’ Meeting and not the Trustee Board which decides the programme and equipment priorities.
As the title implies, the Treasurer is required to produce an annual statement of accounts for the financial year. The first page can be a simple income and expenditure account shown in a column form with a resulting surplus and deficit. The second page can be a simple balance sheet showing reserves brought forward, adding the year’s surplus or deficit and balancing this with the year end monies held at the bank. The total income and expenses from any separate Section accounts must also be consolidated and their balances shown within the Scout Group's annual accounts.
The account can be made much more informative by having the previous year’s numbers as a comparison, as well as further detail about income and expenditure from various activities. Miscellaneous income and expenditure should be kept to a low number as it can hide a wide variety of items. The balance sheet may need to include a property value (maybe an expert valuer needs to be consulted) as well as a value for equipment (this is normally cost but needs to be written down annually via a depreciation charge). The accounts could be supplemented with a written statement highlighting various numbers. These accounts need to be checked by an independent person (see below).
Both the Charities Act and POR detail the minimum requirements for the scrutiny, independent examination or audit of accounts. It is no longer sufficient to rely on a friend or someone from work looking over your accounts. There are specific requirements based on levels of turnover which in some cases actually specify the qualifications required.
Do ask; you may find that there is someone connected to the Group who is qualified to carry out this task. Remember that they will need to be sufficiently independent. Independence means that the examiner is not influenced, or perceived to be, by either close personal relationships with the trustees of the charity or by a day-to-day involvement in the administration of the charity being examined.
It's easy to recognise that a leader or Group Trustee is not independent, but sometimes less obvious that the spouse or close relative of a leader is not sufficiently independent.
If your Scout Group is struggling to find an independent person to examine your accounts, you may wish to contact the local office of BDO, The Scout Association’s auditors, to see if they can recommend anyone. Click to find the contact details for your local office of BDO.
The Scouts has no set rules about when the financial year end must be. The Scout Association’s own financial year runs from April to March.
If the previous Group Treasurer had put the Group’s year end in March, there is no reason you, as the new Treasurer can’t put it to the Group Trustee Board to change this date if it’s inconvenient for you. For example, if you are busy at work in March, this would not be practical for you to do the annual accounts, so you may wish to change the year end to May, when you will have more time to spend on them.
A Scout Group is required to hold an Annual General Meeting (or AGM) every year within six months of the end of the financial year. This is in order to approve the annual report of the Group Trustee Board and the financial accounts for the past year, as well as electing the officers of the Group Trustee Board for the following year and informing individuals connected with the Group of future activities. It is an opportunity for parents and others to receive copies of the Group accounts (which should set out what the Group has been up to) and learn about Scout activities, as well as asking questions regarding the direction that the Scout Group will take.
The meeting is to:
- receive and consider the annual report of the Group Trustee Board, including the annual statement of accounts
- approve the Group Scout Leader’s nomination of Group Chair and nominated members of the Group Trustee Board
- elect a Group Secretary and Group Treasurer
- elect certain members of the Group Trustee Board
- appoint an auditor, independent examiner or scrutineer, as required by POR
- set a quorum for Trustee Board meetings (the number of members required for decisions made in the meeting to be binding)
- approve a new end-of year date if desired
It's also an ideal opportunity to:
- promote the Group to current Members and the wider community
- highlight the successes of the past year
- plan for the future activities of the Scout Group
- meet and communicate with other members of the Group Scout Council
- have an exciting, inclusive meeting that may lead to the recruitment of adults to the Scout Group.
The Group Chair will work closely with the Group Scout Leader and other members of the Group Trustee Board to ensure the event achieves its aims.
The Group Treasurer clearly has a part to play and will need to be well prepared. The accounts for the year must be agreed by the Group Trustee Board before the AGM, even if subject to a full audit.
Having copies of the accounts available for people to look at will mean that it is not necessary to spend a great deal of time presenting the detail. Do, however, be prepared to answer questions. Some people see it as their duty to ask the Treasurer a question.
You should also remember that if you want to continue in the role of Group Treasurer you will need to be re-elected by the Group Scout Council at the Annual General Meeting.