The treasurer shares the legal responsibility for the Party Council’s finances with the Party Council Secretary, who is also the deputy treasurer/second officer notified to the Electoral Commission.

Responsibilities

As well as working as part of the Executive, the treasurer is responsible for managing the finances of the party council. Specific responsibilities include:

  • Ensuring the Party Council and its branches comply with the provisions of the PPERA (Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act) – (see ‘reporting requirements’ below);
  • Ensuring the Party Council plan is underpinned by an appropriate budget, prepared in consultation with other officers;
  • Assessing planned expenditure, for example, on supporting candidates, affiliations, expenses, conferences, branch grants, etc.
  • Supporting branch treasurers to ensure they adequately manage their finances and report to the Party Council;
  • Overseeing all Party Council bank accounts and investments, and reporting on them to the party council on a regular basis;
  • Preparing audited accounts for the AGM and Head Office, as well as the Electoral Commission (if your income or expenditure is over £25,000) and to Subscribing Societies where relevant.
  • Reporting donations and loans (see separate guidance)
  • Developing fundraising plans to increase the party council’s income.

Party Council income

There are four main sources of income for party councils:

  • A core grant from the supporting Co-operative Society, which will be paid when you have submitted your Annual Statement of Accounts and may come in two parts. If the Society is the Co-operative Group or East of England Co-operative, this grant will be paid through Co-operative Party Head Office
  • A share of the membership fee relating to each paid up member. The amount is set by the NEC and is paid from April each year by Co-operative Party Head Office
  • Some Party Councils will be eligible to apply for additional funding to support one-off projects or campaigns, for example the Campaign Fund (Midcounties Co-operative parties), and the Activity Fund (Co-operative Group parties);
  • Fundraising through raffles, dinners, ticket sales, sponsorship, donations and joint events with other organisations. Branches can also fundraise through raffles, dinners, ticket sales, sponsorship, donations and joint events with other organisations.  You don’t need to register with your local authority to hold a raffle, but before doing so check here to ensure that you are complying with the statutory requirements (‘private society lotteries)

 Reporting donations and loans

If your Party receives a donation of £500 or more, other than your annual grant from the Society you must contact Karen Wilkie straight away so that the donation can be verified as permissible.  Do not wait for the end of the quarter.

Report all cash and in-kind donations over £500 to Karen Wilkie within two weeks of the end of each quarter (e.g. by the 15th of January, April, July, October).

During the General Election period we must report weekly as well as quarterly.

Party Council Expenditure

Some of the main sources of expenditure Party Councils can expect each year include:

  • Affiliation to all Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) within your party council area – to make this easier for you this will normally be paid by Head Office on your behalf.  CLPs will see this on their bank statements as ‘Co-op Affiliation’.
  • Constituency Plan Agreements (CPAs) cover the campaign costs related to having a Labour and Co-operative MP or candidate – this is paid by Head Office on your behalf;
  • Delegation fees for Annual Conference are paid to Head Office who may also arrange accommodation for your delegates – you will need to budget for the delegate fees and accommodation and also to pay for travel costs for delegates;
  • Funding to support Co-operative Party council candidates in your area, the level of which will be set by the Party Council in consultation with Head Office;
  • Branches are funded by the party council, who also decide how much to pay – the recommended level is £4 per member plus £100 for each branch.

Party councils may not enter into any contract with a value in excess of £1,000 without the express permission of the NEC.

Keeping accounts

  • The Party’s financial year runs from 1 January to 31 December, not AGM to AGM.
  • Keep your records up to date to make it easier to make regular reports to the rest of the party council.
  • The treasurer must be a signatory on all bank accounts held by the party council and receive the bank statements. The signatories should be at least 3 current officers with 2 signatures being required on cheques.
  • The Annual Statement of Accounts should be prepared and approved by the Party Council in the first quarter of the year and forwarded to Head Office by 30 April.
  • Party Councils with income and/or expenditure greater than £25,000 must also send a copy of the Annual Statement of Accounts to the Electoral Commission by 30 April or risk a fine.
  • You must keep records of your accounts for six years.
  • Party Councils should appoint 2 members to act as auditors at its AGM who should audit the accounts before they are approved by the party council.

 

The Electoral Commission recognises Party Councils as ‘Accounting Units’.  You can find detailed guidance on the responsibilities of a Party Council (‘Accounting Unit’)Treasurer from the Electoral Commission here

IMPORTANT: The Electoral Commission requires the Co-operative Party to keep an up-to-date list of all Party Council treasurers and secretaries, who are legally responsible for the Party Council’s finances. If you have a change of officers, make sure Head Office is notified promptly so the changes can be made with Electoral Commission.

Actions

  • Ensure that the Party Council agrees an annual budget to match predicted income and the Party’s plan for the year.
  • Keep clear accounts, with income and expenditure supported by the budget, minutes, cheque stubs, bank statements.
  • Submit quarterly donations returns promptly.
  • If your income or expenditure exceeds £25,000, ensure that you submit your accounts to the Electoral Commission by the deadline.
  • Prepare an annual statement of accounts for the Party Council’s auditor and forward to Head Office.
  • Let us know straight away if the Treasurer or Secretary changes.

For further information contact:  Shane Brogan

Date last updated: January 2018

Additional links:

Electoral Commission Guidance