I read with interest and amazement the article 'Audit changes claim back LA reserves' (NCE last week), in particular the claim that 'most of the balances represent money allocated in the past by the ICE in cash transfers which has not been spent'. I challenge anyone to furnish firm evidence to support this claim.
The Northern Ireland local association has fairly modest reserves. In my five years as Treasurer our grant has been pegged at the same level each year despite an increase in beneficial activities and inflation. Our reserves have not been built up by underspend on HQ funding, as claimed - rather our reserves have been continually eroded over this period to supplement a distinct lack of HQ financial support.
These reserves are the result of successfully run events which generally make a profit partly due to the voluntary input of members. The modest reserves also allow us to 'smooth' cashflow problems to avoid going into 'the red' and incurring bank interest charges.
There is another significant factor which pertains to our LA - included in our reserves is a Restricted Fund which was set up some years ago, by donations to enable our LA to self-fund an annual prize (the Ferguson Medal ) for the best paper presented at an LA meeting. HQ in formulating policy has failed to realise that this fund cannot and will not be otherwise used. The only option to HQ 'gobbling-up' this fund is to return the money to the original donors apportioned in the ratio of their initial contributions.
I feel that HQ has lost sight of the fact that 'we the members are the Institution' and it is at 'grass roots' LA level that ordinary members are benefiting because of relevant activities, not because of what HQ thinks it does for them.
Don McQuillan (F) Hon Treasurer Northern Ireland LA