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Important Changes to the Operation of the Society's Political Fund

25 May, 2017

Author: Richard Evans, Chief Executive Officer and General Secretary

Political Fund logo

You must let us know if you do not want to contribute

When members voted in 2016 to establish a Political Fund, trade union legislation required that participation would be on an ‘opt-out’ basis, i.e. members would become automatic contributors unless they actively said they did not want to participate.

However, the Trade Union Bill was before parliament and contained the clear intention that all existing and any future political funds would be changed to an ‘opt-in’ arrangement, i.e. members would be invited to contribute and they had to actively say that they wanted to do so.

Consequently, we advised members that this was the basis on which the Fund would operate. We were right and we were wrong.

The Trade Union Act when passed did not introduce immediate opting-in. Instead it provided for a ‘transition period’.

As a result we can now advise the following:

  • If you have already opted-in to contribute to the Political Fund, do nothing.
  • If you want to contribute 60p a quarter to the Political Fund, it would be very helpful if you could confirm your support by completing our on-line ‘opt-in’ form. (Members in Northern Ireland click here.)
  • For anyone in membership or joining/re-joining the Society before 1 March 2018, we are required to collect a Political Fund levy of 60p per quarter UNLESS they opt out of doing so.
  • If you pay your membership subscription by direct debit, the Society is required to take an additional and separate payment of 60p a quarter as your contribution to the Political Fund. The first direct debit payment will be taken on 25 July UNLESS you opt-out.
  • If you want to opt-out of contributing to the Fund, go to the form on the website.
  • Anyone who joins or re-joins the Society after 1 March 2018, and who wants to make the voluntary contribution to the Fund of £2.40 a year, will need to complete an opt-in form.

This change only affects members in England, Scotland and Wales.

For members in Northern Ireland, nothing has changed. As before, if they want to contribute to the Fund, they should opt-in.

More information on the background to these changes can be found on the Political Fund home page.

UK Council have amended Section 17 of the Society Handbook to take account of the changes. 

We do apologise to members for the inconvenience caused by this change to the operation of the Political Fund. It is frustrating for everyone but parliament changed the provisions in the Trade Union Act and the Society must comply with the law.

Please do not let this vexing change diminish your support for the Fund. See the key points below about why the Fund is so important.

A 30-SECOND GUIDE TO THE SOR POLITICAL FUND

  • If the Society wants to register with the Electoral Commission to campaign on issues such as the NHS in the period before a general election, or an election for the devolved parliaments/assemblies, money used to fund specific elements of such a campaign MUST NOT come from the union’s general funds.
  • The Society has a Political Fund that will be used to pay for the key campaign activities leading up to an election.
  • Members contribute to the Fund on a voluntary basis. It has no relationship to your Society membership subscription.
  • The voluntary contribution is £2.40 a year.

It’s easy to sign-up. Click here.

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