Projected budget shortfall sparks redundancies at the BMC
- Thursday 13th July 2023
A projected end-of-year budget shortfall is reportedly causing significant problems at the BMC leading to some staff being issued with ‘risk of redundancy’ letters as well as at least one member of staff having already been made redundant.
Word on the street for some time has been that there’s an ‘ongoing financial situation’ at the BMC! It only seems like yesterday that the BMC faced its last crisis; that of course resulted in an organisation review and staffing changes. However, and once again, there is trouble at The Old Church in West Didsbury, Manchester.
At the risk of oversimplifying what is a complex situation, it seems that a significant increase in membership numbers was forecasted by the BMC along with an increase in revenue and expenditure. It appears that not only has income generally been stifled as a result of both Covid and the current ongoing financial squeeze but that the forecasted membership growth hasn’t materialised. There is therefore now a problem with expenditure which the BMC is seeking to reduce in order to balance its books.
However, like the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, there is considerably more going on below the surface than above. As well as over-ambitious forecasting – and arguably poor financial reporting – the BMC is continually being pulled from pillar to post by the wide range of ‘interests’ it seeks to represent.
On the one hand, we have outdoor climbers and hillwalkers whilst on the other hand there is a ballooning indoor climbing scene. Now add into that mix the business of competitive climbing – now under the umbrella of GB Climbing – and you have yet another disparate interest group, in this case, partly funded by grants from elsewhere. It’s not so much the case that the left-hand doesn’t know what the right-hand is doing – as is often the case when difficulties surface in many organisations – but more the case that said interest groups might as well live on different planets.
Given such divergent interests, it seems hardly surprising that the situation is as ‘rough’ as it is. Whilst all this has been rumbling on nothing official had come out of West Disbury until just yesterday when a joint statement by CEO Paul Davis, Chair Roger Murray and President Andy Syme has been published on the BMC website.
We reproduce the statement in full below. It reads…
“Due to the slower than forecast rate of growth of our membership, and as a result of other income being suppressed as we emerge from the pandemic and current external environment, we are reviewing our operational and base costs in order to maintain a sustainable BMC for the future. We have initiated a small restructure process which will ensure that we have the right structure, financially and operationally, to deliver our priorities across all areas moving forward over the coming years.
“It’s important to note that our membership is still growing, but growth is not at the rate that we had projected. We are in the same position as a lot of other similar organisations who have not yet achieved a full bounce back from the impacts Covid amidst the current climate. Our operational budget will need to reflect the income we receive and we need to ensure we have the right staff base moving forwards across all our areas of work, with income for the remainder of the year set to be below forecast we will make proportionate reductions where we can across all areas of the BMC. All departments will be affected, including ACES (Access, Conservation & Environmental Sustainability) as the team has grown faster than income can support, however our commitment to the work ACES delivers remains as strong as ever and we guarantee retaining a higher level of resource than in recent years. We will continue developing our work and support for outdoor and indoor climbers, and raising awareness of our important work within the hill walking community, which we recognise as vital to the future of the BMC.
“Although this process causes uncertainty for everyone involved, we hope there will be a minimal reduction in the number of permanent staff and will be providing all necessary support to those affected. Our staff, volunteers and members are our main concern and we are doing everything in our power to minimise the impact of this decision on our employees, and by extension, on our members and stakeholders. We do not expect this to impact our day-to-delivery and aim to work through the process as swiftly as possible. We want to emphasise that our strategic aims remain unchanged and there is no divergence from them.”
Hopefully the powers that be are doing everything that is possible to keep the BMC afloat and not taking on any more water given it's vitally important that we have a national body representing our interests. When we hear more, we’ll keep you posted.