Tuesday, 01 November 2016 22:25

New government 'Code for Sports Governance' could have dire implications for BMC funding

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A recent announcement on government funding for sports could mean major changes in the governance of the British Mountaineering Council

BMC HQ

Under the new 'Code for Sports Governance', organisations must adhere to "gold standards" of transparency, accountability and financial integrity and the code sets out a target of at least 30% gender diversity on boards.

 The code calls for:
  • Increased skills and diversity in decision-making, with a target of at least 30% gender diversity on boards
  • Greater transparency, for example publishing more information on the structure, strategy and financial position of the organisation
  • Constitutional arrangements that give boards the prime role in decision-making

The new code applies to governing bodies who ask for UK government and National Lottery funding from April 2017.

UK Sport predicts changes in practice should be in evidence by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It is not only funding which could be hit if authorities do not comply with the code. The government could also take other punitive measures - including the withdrawal of the support sporting bodies need when bidding to host major events.

According to the BMC's 2015 Annual Report the organisation received £568.000 in "Sport England grants and other donations" out of a total income of £2.735million, yet only 1 of the 9 members of the Executive Committee is female. The gender diversity balance appears even further away when looking at the minutes of the latest National Council Meeting where 18 of the 19 voting members present were male while only 2 women were present amongst the 12 Observers, Staff and BMC Patron.

Commenting on the changes required Sports Minister Tracey Crouch said "It is vital that our domestic sports bodies and organisations uphold the very highest standards of governance and lead the world in this area" while UK Sport's Chief Operating Officer, Simon Morton, said ""This code includes over 50 requirements that sporting organisations in receipt of public funding will now have to implement.

"It will take different times for every single organisation. They all have different constitutions in place, so we'll agree bespoke timescales. But certainly as we move into the next funding cycle, which will start from 2017 onwards, they'll need to be compliant with these standards."

The new Code followed consultation with more than 200 organisations with 78% agreeing on the need for increased diversity. Very few British governing bodies currently meet the new governance criteria and is being reported that UK Sport is also considering the establishment of a compliance unit to conduct investigations into governing bodies.

How the BMC is planning to comply with the new code is at present unknown, but the implications are potentially very serious at a time when the body has already had serious questions to answer about its accountability following the U turn on rebranding earlier in the year. At the September meeting of the National Committee the organisation discussed the BMC becoming financially independent from Sport England with some members feeling BMC work programmes could suffer "quite badly" from withdrawal of funding. With the new Code for Sport Governance being announced on October 31st the matter is set to become even more important and could potentially see a major shake-up of the Executive and/or National Committee.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 November 2016 23:44

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