BMC Releases 2023 Accounts, Annual Report and Audit Report ahead of AGM

© Team BMC

Ahead of the AGM on 12 June, the British Mountaineering Council has released the organisation's accounts, annual report and financial audit report for 2023. The publication of the documents follows an announcement last month that the BMC had made a loss of £625,000 in 2023 (UKC News).

In his President's Report, Andy Syme wrote:

'2023 was a year of uncertainty and challenge which will impact us for some time but my hope is that the financial challenges faced in 2023 will be a catalyst for positive change in how the BMC operates and the role it plays across our community of activities.

'[...]I have always advocated and tried to ensure members are informed of decisions and reasons for decisions as far as possible. It is not easy and we have not always got it right, but I am pleased that towards the end of the year as a Board and organisation we stepped up with our member engagement, as we navigated the difficult evolving situation. It is important that my successor and the Board continue to improve our communications and transparency and that members engage through the Members' Council and Areas to have their say and contribute to the direction of the BMC.

'The BMC represents many different groups with diverse needs and priorities which will not always align. But we do have many common objectives and values and as is the mountaineering tradition when things go wrong it is always better to combine resources, not look only to our immediate companions; we are stronger and better when we work together. In 2024 we need to do this and I hope we all will.'

Chair Roger Murray described 2023 as an 'annus horribilis' for the BMC. He pointed to poor contract management, insurance issues, unattainable membership targets and a 'lack of financial control' - especially within GB Climbing - exacerbated by a new accounting system.

Murray echoed CEO Paul Ratcliffe's comments in the recent Open Forum Webinar and in our UKC interview, explaining that for the next few years the BMC's focus will be on achieving financial and organisational stability and strategising (2024), building financial strength alongside partners (2025) and eventually focusing on growth in membership and impact. (2026).

The BMC's membership has remained stable, 'tracking close' to previous year-end figures, the report states: 'Individual membership numbers remain static, while we continue to see club membership continue to also grow 0.8% compared to previous year. We ended the year with 83,571 members, a small increase of 0.7% on the snapshot taken at the end of 2022.'

The report also summarises positive progress made across local BMC areas, in events, engagement, Access, Conservation & Environmental Sustainability, Sport Development and GB Climbing and Performance.

2023 Finances

BMC income for 2023 was £4.872M: 'Income has increased by 18% comprised mainly of grant increases and the subscription increase,' the Annual Report reads.

Expenditure for 2023 was £5.496M: 'Costs have increased by 25% from 2022 predominantly due to the increase in grant funded activities.' GB Climbing expenditure amounted to £1,510,191 (including expenditure relating to grant funding of £612k.)

The Accounts Overview shows that the net loss for the BMC in 2023 was £624,977.

The main reasons for this loss are described in the Annual Report as follows:

1. Reconciliation of grants relating to GB Climbing and poor controls of budgets resulting in additional cost to the BMC - £361,284
2. Inaccurate accounting of VAT resulting in additional cost to the BMC - £61,420
3. Profit reconciliation across several areas including bad debtors and fees for services owed - £62,037
4. Loss of insurance income in July 2023 - £41,627
5. The costs of restructuring, redundancies, and staff departures due to not tracking ambitious growth targets - £102,816 

= £624,977

Key Audit Issues

Following an audit carried out by Hurst, the report addresses issues related to balance sheet reconciliations, grant reconciliation, VAT calculations and the BMC's status as a going concern. The report reads:

'On the basis of the information provided by management, we have concurred with their conclusions regarding the status of the organisation as a going concern.'

The BMC's deficit per an initial trial balance of £283,841 was adjusted after reconciliation to £624,977, a difference of £341,136.

Overall, the auditors recommended holding grant funding in a separate bank account, obtaining written contracts for partnerships, improving bookkeeping and accounting reconciliations and a review of 'monthly payments made to a private pension scheme for a former employee.'

BMC AGM - 12 June

The AGM will be held virtually on Wednesday 12 June at 7 p.m., with a number of resolutions to be voted on by members.

Details from the BMC's elections services provider will follow regarding how to attend.

Annual Report

Accounts Overview

Annual Accounts

Audit Report

Read all of the documentation released by the BMC ahead of the AGM and sing up to take part on the BMC AGM webpage.

Read and/or watch our recent UKC interview with BMC CEO Paul Ratcliffe:

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6 Jun

I have never posted on this saga before, though I have followed it.

I am a loyal BMC individual member of nearly 30 years - nearly half of that living abroad, yet still paying my subs because I believe in the organisation, and still come back to climb regularly in the UK. I have a firm belief that the BMC will get out of this mess, and applaud Paul Ratcliffe for being good to his word and releasing as much detail as possible.

I also respect and applaud the effort of those (notably, but not exclusively, Simon UKB Shark) who have chased the threads doggedly to the point where, hopefully, it means the new management can stop the rot before the whole organisation disappears.

I hope everyone manages to work together now, because climbing, hillwalking, and mountaineering in the UK needs the BMC.

I’m kind of grimly amused by the way no one has commented about this so far. I guess everyone is simply stunned by the size of the figures involved, and wondering how on earth it's possible for an essentially non-commercial organisation to run at “£200,000 over budget, each year”, quote unquote, for four years, amounting to a loss of nearly 2/3 of a million pounds by the end of 2023. I suspect the problems all started around 2016 when they suddenly had the hairbrained idea of re-branding themselves as something called "Climb Britain”.

Don’t read to much into the lack of posts on this article - the discussion was already underway on another thread

Thanks. Seems GB Climbing has a lot to answer for.

6 Jun

Hairbrained? I liked ‘Climb Britain’ as a name. I can’t stand the name British Mountaineering Council, which sounds anachronistic and does not describe my 33 years in climbing. I don’t mountaineer. I do some trad climbing, some sport climbing, climb indoors and a tiny bit of bouldering. But from all the hoo ha re. Climb Britain, I appear to be in the minority. Anyway, there seem to be more important things for others to think about at the moment.

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