Good afternoon to you all, we are pleased that you have elected to join us for our AGM and thank those who have travelled a considerable distance. Once again we must thank our hosts, ‘The Springbridge Carriage Driving School’, for their hospitality. Jane, Linda and Dennis always make us feel welcome here and I am sure you will agree that it is a very pleasant venue. We have said in the past that we will use this venue for hopefully many years to come. We would like to inform the forum that Mike Flynn, was invited on to the main committee and we look forward to his input and assistance. Mike has been a member of the fund since its inception in 1989 and works tirelessly for the staff at Manchester and the general running of the fund with his recruitment of new staff at his establishment. At last years AGM we experimented with a new format during the report delivery by the Chairman. We invited the assembled forum, to ask the chairman to give way, if they had a reasonable reason to discuss any of the topics being discussed, with new ideas or constructive comments, during the delivery of this report. This proved to attract quite a considerable input from the floor and was a very worthwhile exercise. Therefore we will utilise this facility again this year and you are all welcome to partake in the issues within the report. Please, just make yourself known, with your Name and Establishment for our records. Again we must refer to the old favourite ‘Recruitment’, during this reporting period we saw a rise in new membership, with the facility offered by Newbold Revel to attend the courses during the year and an increase in the number of new representatives electing to work with our committee, in support of their establishment staff. We would like to emphasise to all our representatives who are signing new members up, that they should point out the fact that any donations from salary are taken before tax is deducted. This means that for every pound they donate, it equates to an 80p reduction in their final salary amount. For any member of staff or ancillary workers within their establishment, the facility to donate by standing order is available. All Representatives are contacted if we receive this form of donation and a Gift Aid form is sent out to the donor, who allows the fund to reclaim the tax paid on the donation. This form can be obtained from the Secretary if the rep. wishes to have it available at all times. Initially, we experienced a slight problem with finalising dates for our presentation at Newbold Revel, owing to the fact that we tried to be the first to present our case for new members, before the other organisations got in. It goes without saying that Ken persevered with this issue and finally got the result he wanted. We would also like to extend our gratitude to Barbara Robinson, a member of staff at Frankland and a recipient on numerous occasions, of support from the fund, for assistance with specialised equipment for her Son. Barbara joined Ken at a presentation at Newbold Revel in her own time and spoke with first hand knowledge, of how we assist many causes, such as the one she supports. This was reflected in the response she attained from the students, one of which elected to donate ten pounds per month from salary, Barbara’s input obviously worked and Ken saw his efforts rewarded with many new members. One problem we have seen an increase in, is the misunderstanding by staff that they are members of the PSCF and wrongly state this on their application for assistance, when they are actually members of the PSSA or The Charity for Civil Servants. We always contact them to put this matter right and support their first application. We send a letter of explanation and our joining form with our donation and invite them to complete and return it to our secretary. Sadly, we very seldom get a positive response, which results in the fund refusing further assistance to that member of staff. We have had to take this step following long discussions at previous AGM’s, where staff have pointed out the unfairness in assisting non-members, when it is their colleagues monthly donations, that allow us to support their many good causes. With the Newbold facility coming on line, Ken also made contacts within NOMS, securing the dates and venues for the other training units within the estate. This allowed other members of the committee, to attend numerous training courses in the North East, Yorkshire and the North West Regions. This also proved invaluable to our recruitment drive. John White has the programme for the ‘Well Being Days’ and attended as many as he possibly could given the geographical areas. John would like to pass this facility onto representatives at the establishments, which could result in more members being signed up, from many more establishments. If any of the representatives who are here today, would like to support us in this way, we will supply all the relevant information they require, to promote the fund with the guarantee that we will support them tirelessly. At our last AGM, we discussed the donations from the fund, being sent to the major charities and not receiving many appeals, for individuals or small local charities, supported by their local establishment. Generally, this trend is still on going, however, we did see more appeals to support these causes, towards the end of the year. We received a few appeals for children who were in need of urgent funds, in some of the cases it could have been a life threatening illness. One of the causes supported by Styal and Liverpool Prisons, which was déjà vu for us, as it was a fundraising effort by the staff, at these two prisons, to support a child who needed medical attention only available in Germany. Needless to say we gave our support to this little boys’ needs and it goes without saying that we will monitor the situation and assist again if it is required for ongoing treatment. Some of you will remember this is how we started the fund, after supporting Faye Watling to receive treatment in the United States. Another appeal from Manchester was to support the staff who were attempting to raise the funds for a specific piece of medical equipment, which again would alleviate a serious life threatening condition. This was a seriously urgent cause, as the little boy required this equipment as soon as he could receive it. Again we question the facility available within the NHS, when it is down to the parents to fund such a much needed item. We became involved and with discussions with the family and the suppliers of this equipment, we along with the funds raised by the Manchester staff, were able to order and receive the item. The hospital concerned fitted this little boy with the much needed life changing equipment, within five days of our efforts. One thing we always try to emphasise, is the possibility to obtain certain medical equipment exempt of VAT, in this case we were able to save the family £2,500. There are certain rules concerning VAT Exemption and this information can be obtained from the HMRC Website. Again in this reporting year we were invited to attend with our stall, at the POA Conference in Southport. The committee attended all three days and were pleasantly surprised at the amount of attention we received. Again we met staff who had been in the service for many years, that had no idea we existed and were keen to take away our information packs, back to their establishments. We, as your committee thank the POA executive for their ongoing support throughout the year. We received a massive amount of promotional work, with the advertising of the fund in numerous issues of the Gatelodge Magazine, which resulted in quite a lot of enquiries from staff around the estate. They also told us that they would input information regarding the work of the PSCF in their 2017 diary. One fundraising idea which was raised during the meetings with the POA executive at the conference, was an initiative by the POA, to support all establishments, in funding for their local hospice. Each establishment can make a one off appeal, to receive a £100 donation from the POA for a local hospice. This could be obtained with a simple request to the POA executive. The contact for this appeal is, Carol Strahan at Cronin house. We are aware of a number of establishments, who have received this support and passed it on to their respective area hospice Another important way of staff receiving assistance from the POA executive, is the ability to utilise the Fire Fighters Rehabilitation Facility, for rehab or recuperation, following surgery or serious illness. This facility is still available to staff even if they are receiving assistance from other sources, such as the PSCF or the Charity for Civil Servants, etc. There are restrictions on this facility, which means the staff member must contribute to the POA welfare Fund. Staff still in service, are usually paying this contribution within their subscription to the POA, which may grant them access to this facility. Retired staff that do not contribute to the POA to remain a member, would not be eligible, unless they opted to maintain an annual subscription to the POA welfare fund following retirement. More details regarding this facility and how to maintain the welfare fund donation on retirement, is again Carol Strahan at Cronin House. Retired staff who have not continued this welfare fund subscription are sadly not allowed to apply or join the welfare fund in retrospect. Also, at the POA Conference, we were once again sought out by the Scottish Delegates with enquiries as to the working of our fund. John, Paul and Bob explained the criteria and gave them as much information about the PSCF as we could. This situation has risen many times throughout the funds existence, but as in the past the delegates were very keen to explore the possibility of the Scottish Service getting involved. We all thought that maybe this time their enthusiasm may well result in them moving forward and joining us. Sadly, once again we had no further contact from these delegates, so we must assume that even with their enthusiastic approach they have chosen not to take the matter any further. Last year we discussed the situation whereby we frequently did not receive confirmation of a donation, sent by the fund towards the fundraising by staff, for causes they were supporting. I can report that although we still have a problem, it has now been alleviated a little, by the addition of a note on the accompanying letter, with the donation. However, we still have had cause to contact the appellant, who has not confirmed receipt, on numerous occasions. More of a problem to the fund, in relation to the treasurer being able to produce accurate accounts to the committee and ultimately to our accountants and the Charity Commission, is the non-presentation of our donation cheques to the relevant organisation. Cathy and John spent a massive amount of time and effort to resolve this matter. Their main aim was to contact the appellant and confirm firstly, they had received our donation and secondly they had passed the donation to their chosen cause. After months of work following this up, which included hundreds of e-mails, we were getting nowhere fast, with their endeavours. We discussed this at length at our monthly meetings and a decision was unanimous, in that if the donation from the fund is not presented by the recipients, lost or destroyed accidently, etc. it is up to the recipients to contact us and we would then work with them to resolve this matter. It was decided that we were not responsible for this problem, so therefore we would not pursue the matter unless contacted for assistance. After a reasonable length of time the cheque would either be stopped, which costs the fund money, or would not be reissued, which means that the chosen cause would lose our assistance. Another problem we encountered during this reporting period, was incorrect recipient information recorded on the application form. On numerous occasions we have had to amend our donation cheque, to apply the correct information. Two examples of this, is the change of name by the charities concerned i.e. ‘Breast Cancer Support’ is now, ‘Breast Cancer Now’ and ‘Macmillan Cancer Care’ and ‘Macmillan Cancer Support’, may be two different recipient causes. We would urge all appellants to ensure they have the correct information, as this will allow for a swifter response, to their cause and save any misunderstanding. Following numerous appeals for financial assistance, for loss of earnings through injury, retirement, or bereavement, etc., of which we have had a few within the reporting period. One such appeal was received from a serving officer at a Welsh establishment. This officer was injured whilst on duty and assisting a colleague who was being attacked by a prisoner. The officer sustained a serious injury to his shoulder, which meant he could not operate to his full capacity, until he had surgery to correct the problem. Due to the NHS waiting list, it could be between twelve and eighteen months before his operation. He was facing possible dismissal from the service due to his inability to carry out full duties, even though the injury occurred at work. Whilst we have to sympathise with this type of appeal, we cannot sustain the cost of private health care. We must emphasise that this type of assistance, is outside our criteria and constitution. Sadly, when we receive this type of appeal, we have to contact the person making the appeal, to explain our position. Thankfully, this has always been accepted to date, when we quite understand that they may be grieving their loss, or the requirement of urgent treatment. However, we do now advise for them to contact the Charity for Civil Servants who are a benevolent society, unlike the PSCF, who have strict guidelines on this issue. This information has been passed to a number of appellants and hopefully they were able to achieve some assistance from the CFCC. Their contact details are:
Tel : 0800 056 2424
E Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
I hope this information will be of some assistance to you at your establishments. As you can see from the above information, we quite often receive enquiries for assistance which does not fit our criteria. It is never easy dealing with these appeals but, sometimes our decision is easier to explain. When John White received an appeal from a member of staff for assistance for ‘Save The Rhino’s’, it was down to him to point out in the nicest possible way, that even with the best will in the world, we could not get it within the PSCF criteria! Once again I think we need to express our gratitude to our colleagues at Deerbolt and Frankland for supplying free of charge, all the promotional items you see here today, which we would encourage you to take back to your establishments, to assist in your recruitment drives. We also have received generous support once again from Ian White and Potts Print (UK), who print and supply this report and much of our stationary, free of charge throughout the year. This is much appreciated by your committee. Following a request from members of staff who are not POA Members, enquiring if we could produce a PSCF Diary, which they were willing to purchase, John worked closely with Ian to see if this was a viable exercise, and the answer to that, was it would be very costly, due to the relatively small number required, so this idea was not carried forward. Due to this decision the POA were contacted and as previously mentioned, they have now added promotional information about the PSCF, in their 2017 diary, for which we also register our gratitude.
For and on behalf of the Committee
At the end of this accounting period the fund shows a profit over the previous year. It is evident from this year’s figures, that we have seen an increase of £14,310.67, this is the difference between what the FUND received and what the FUND paid out in expenses. There are numerous reasons for this, which are set out in this report. During this financial year we received 155 appeals, down from last years 201. These were received from 40 establishments, again down from last years 52. Why the 12 establishments that made appeals to the FUND last year, haven’t submitted an appeal this year, is surprising to say the least. This establishment figure includes a total of seven appeals from the regional offices. We also had four appeals from the POA executive, to assist two major fundraising appeals from the Midland Region and the Walton Retired/POA charity. We appreciate these latter appeals, as we feel that the fund is being promoted at the highest level and wherever possible we attempt to maintain these links. This link is on display with the two PSCF adverts in the POA 2017 Diary. We also had two appeals from the IOW HQ during the year. The amount donated from the fund, to assist staff reach their targets stands at £86,140 a decrease of almost £11,990 from the previous financial year. Again, as in the previous financial years of 2014 and 2015, the decrease in appeals from the number of establishments contacting the fund, it is fairly evident, that fundraising at all establishments is in line with the general financial situation. With the loss of staff, including many members of the FUND, through VEDs and retirement, reducing staffing levels at all establishments. The amount received from payroll in 2015 was £100,543.45, the amount received during this financial year (2016) is £89,598.31, a drop of £10,945.14. This reflects the loss of membership mentioned in the above paragraph. As in the previous reporting period, the department is now recruiting new Staff and we are actively securing new members from the main training centre at Newbold Revel and establishments, such as Frankland and Manchester, where we have very proactive Reps. Over this financial year we have seen an increase from public donations, as well as £396 received from retired staff paying from their pensions, an increase of £46. Members donating by standing order rose slightly over this period, from the last financial report. These donations attract Gift Aid and will be claimed back as soon as we can finalise all the personal details required to fulfil the claims form. With the change in government policy regarding the collection of Gift Aid, we now ask all new members who wish to donate by standing order or direct debit, to complete a form with all their relevant details, these forms are sent to them at their respective establishments. This has been well received by the donors, who have returned their forms to us quite quickly, knowing that their donation will be boosted by gift aid. Our investment portfolio generated a slightly higher return than 2015 rising only by £339.44 in interest over this reporting period. As in 2015 the bank rates stayed at an all-time low, which has an obvious impact on our investments, in both the banks and building societies we deal with. During this financial year there was a major change to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme due the volatility of the Euro against the Pound. This had a major impact on our portfolio, as the FSCS reduced their safe limits for compensation from, £85,000 back down to its original level of £75,000 invested in any financial institution and all linked financial houses. As we have stated many times over the years, your committee are responsible to invest and safeguard the fund portfolio, which meant we had to secure new investment opportunities within the new FSCS limits. As in the past, Nevill has spent many hours, days and weeks, researching new building societies, as most of the major institutions will not allow investment from charities, (we have never been able to secure the reason for their reluctance). Quite a few of our investments matured in January 2016 and we have now secured an investment agreement with the Hampshire Trust Fund, The Bath Building Society and The Furness Building Society, adding these institutions to our portfolio and will transfer any excess funds above the £75,000 limit to secure the funds invested within FSCS safe limits. The low interest rates offered at present with our current account at HSBC, as with many other banks is quite pathetic, realising only £29.61 in this financial year. Although we have to maintain a working balance, in the form of a Current Account, we also appreciate that maintaining this balance would have an effect on our income, if we didn’t from time to time, increase our portfolio, with any outstanding amounts from this account. Highlighting the need for new investment opportunities. Overall I feel that we have had another successful financial year.