British National Party audited accounts - a Treasury statement
13th August 2007
News article filed by BNP Treasury department
There have been media reports and understandable concerns from members about the late submission of the party accounts to the Electoral Commission (EC).
The BNP has two accounting units. There is the Central Accounting Unit (Central Office), and the Regional Accounting Unit (Groups & Branches). Both units are inspected by the EC, and depending on the overall turnover of the respective accounting units, (over or under £250K) they may, or may not be subject to audit by an independent chartered auditor.
This auditing process costs the BNP serious money in comparison to our present size and financial turnover.
Going the extra mile!
This year the BNP Treasury team made a symbolically very important decision. This was to have the Regional Accounting Unit audited as well as the Central Accounting Unit. Because the overall turnover of the Regional Account Unit was just under £250,000, the BNP was not required to have the accounts independently audited.
However, in the interests of transparency and due probity, the Treasury Department decided that it was in the interests of the BNP and its loyal membership that they should receive independently audited accounts; just like the Central Accounting Unit, which since year end 2003 has been in excess of £250,000.
As far as we can ascertain, no other party in Britain submits its Treasury documentation to this extra level of scrutiny when it is not required by law.With this decision came a significant increase in workload for our overstretched Treasury Department. A few years back, the Treasury Department had four full time paid employees. However, during a short-lived lean period, it was Treasury that took the lead and lost an employee by natural wastage.
Treasury now has just two paid members of staff and where once four people worked on the accounts, it is now just the one, Regional Treasurer David Hannam.
The Regional Treasurer oversees up to 250 bank accounts, that each day need to be kept up to date, pays bills, audits petty cash books and has to be present in the office to answer a high volume of phone calls in the BNP’s busiest office.
Whilst undertaking all these tasks, our Regional Treasurer is a Director for Great White Records, an Independent Company that donates to the BNP, of which is entirely self-sufficient and self-funded by the Directors. It is also task of the Regional Treasurer to make sure that the BNP complies with PPERA 2000 Rules and Legislation on the receiving of donations, and he must make sure that the list is entirely up to date so we do not in error receive impermissible donations, and thus keeps the BNP legal and up to date.
The BNP submitted the Regional Accounting Unit Accounts some time ago. We are now waiting for the independent auditor to make the submission to the Electoral Commission.
Unfortunately, an additional delay has been created here by the fact that auditors have just been hit by European auditing requirements, which are even more stringent than the British rules they had to meet before. This has hit smaller firms of chartered accountants – including the one we use – far harder than the big companies used by the Establishment parties.
The BNP Treasury Team are also in the closing stages of the Central Accounting Unit Audit, and the Treasury Team are delivering these accounts to the auditor very shortly to undergo the usual strict application tests to show transparency and accountability to our members. Late Groups/Branch accounts One of the biggest problems faced by our overstretched Treasury Department is late submission of group/branch petty cash books/accounts. This had huge ramifications for slowing down both audits. All in all, 15 groups/branches failed to get their accounts in on time. Some as late as June, when the final deadline was for submission of the accounts was March. This was in spite of the fact that Treasury repeatedly chased non-compliant units from January onwards, a process which in itself wastes even more scarce Treasury time.
The following groups were late in the submission of their accounts:
Highlands & Islands
Barking & Dagenham
Late submission from groups not only holds up our Regional Accounts but also has a knock on effect on Central Accounts. The lesson here is we all need to tighten up and get sharp.
As a Party we are now playing in the serious league. The days of late submissions should be behind us, and the Treasury Department accepts this fact too. The BNP pays big money to have our accounts audited, indeed, even when not required, we believe the members deserve audited accounts. All our accounts go through a rigorous inspection. First they are prepared by the Regional Treasurer, they are then inspected by the Independent Auditor, they can then be inspected the Auditing Standards Board who oversees the Independent Auditor, they are then submitted to the Electoral Commission, who then meet with Treasury Officials and question whatever aspects of income and expenditure they wish.
We pay big money to make sure every penny given by our supporters is accounted for.
This year, once accounts are published, every member will receive a profit and loss statement for the first time with their membership bulletin.
We have made huge strides forward in respect of transparency and efficiency. We have now cracked down on late group submission of accounts, and we have introduced penalties for anyone, that means group/branches, or the highest official who submits late accounts to our hard working Treasury Team. We are also looking for ways in which skilled and reliable volunteers with a professional financial background can assist by taking on certain tasks at present undertaken by our understaffed Treasury Department.
If you have any questions regarding accounts, please feel free to email our National Treasurer John Walker who will be more than happy to answer any questions.