Saturday, 2 August 2014

CEO Blog: The party's accounts for 2013

This week The Electoral Commission published the 2013 accounts for all the major political parties. These reveal the party’s finances but also other interesting things like membership and staffing numbers. This is exactly the sort of thing that, frankly, only political geeks get excited about, so obviously the team was downloading them the moment that they were published.

The story they tell is really interesting, and there are just a few things I wanted to highlight.

We’re growing faster than the Labour party

Our membership increased by just over 1000 in 2013, having dropped almost every non-General Election year for the previous decade. That alone is a huge achievement but what’s more, we actually grew at a faster rate than the Labour party, 2% versus 1%.

This is a real turnaround and has only happened thanks to the hard work of thousands of volunteers across the country. If you’ve done anything to help recruit or retain a member in the last year, thank you.

Labour employ over 4 times as many staff as the Lib Dems

We all know that the other two parties have greater resources than we do, so seeing the difference in revenue in 2013 wasn’t a surprise. The Tories have their tennis-playing chums and Labour rely heavily on the unions.

We fight the same number of elections as the other parties, run the same number of conferences and produce the same number of manifestos, yet we do so with a fraction of the resources that they do - Labour has four times as many staff as we do. The fact that there are only 78 of us makes what we’re able to achieve even more remarkable. It does also of course mean that we have to prioritise what we spend our time doing!

The party’s finances are in better shape

We have spent the last two years trying to cut our spending on non-campaigning items. The accounts show exactly what you would expect to see at this point in the cycle, a significant increase in campaign expenditure. Despite that increase we were able to turn a deficit of £410k in 2012 to a surplus of £439k, largely due to an increase in our fundraising income. This puts us in a much stronger position heading into a General Election than we would have been. And, of course, a huge amount of that funding comes from you, our members and supporters, so, once again, thank you to everyone who has made a contribution.

The full report is available here.