The company is a membership organisation whose principal purposes are to represent members’ interests and to assist them by offering support, advice and guidance. This assistance is provided in many forms, including policy advice, information and support, networking opportunities, conferences, training and exhibitions, research, general and statistical information and procurement solutions and services.
Our main drivers this year have again been a stronger representation of Members’ needs, continued development of services, procurement solutions and support, and improved engagement with the membership. Our links with key government stakeholders have continued to develop and strengthen this year, in particular through the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for housing in the North, which has enabled the company to have a greater voice in Whitehall on behalf of its members and has resulted in a greater profile for the Consortium. The Board have continued to support an ongoing investment plan for investment in our procurement solutions to grow this area of the company.
REVIEW OF BUSINESS
In order to fulfil the company’s key objective to support our membership through the provision of services and solutions, we need to make a surplus to continually grow and develop our services, and at the same time build up a level of reserves to enable us to compete in the marketplace and offset our pension liabilities/deficits.
The company has a total of £1,274,679 (2014 – £1,229,431) in reserves (before pension liability) which has increased due to the surplus generated in the year. The pension deficit of £545,000 (2014 – £938,000) has positively impacted on total reserves this year netting the total balance on reserves to £729,679 (2014 – £291,431). While prudently managing the pension deficit our aim is to use surplus generated to reinvest for the benefit of member services.
This year the company continued to invest in the growth of the Procurement function through reserves but the current year spend in line with the investment plan has been more than offset by the operating surplus generated within the current year. This use of reserves has been assessed taking consideration of the pension deficit to ensure that our investment plan does not affect the ability of our reserves to cover future potential pension deficits.
The directors shown below have held office during the whole of the period from 1 April 2014 to the date of this report.
J R S Craggs
R A Taylor
R C Young
P Beardmore (Co-Optee)
M Laing (Co-Optee)
Other changes in directors holding office are as follows:
G L Howley – resigned 16th October 2014
G Robinson – appointed 16th October 2014
S Close – appointed 13th January 2015 (Co-optee to fill a casual vacancy)
Each of the members undertakes to contribute a maximum of £1 to the assets of the company in the event of it being wound up.
COMPANY’S POLICY ON PAYMENT OF CREDITORS
The company’s policy is to agree and confirm terms of payment procedures at the commencement of business with suppliers, pay in accordance with contractual and legal obligations, and continually review payment procedures and liaise with suppliers as a means of eliminating difficulties and maintaining a good working relationship.
The company is an admitted body of the West Midlands Pension Fund which is a defined benefit final salary pension scheme and all staff are invited to take part in the scheme.
It is the company’s policy to have effective communication and consultation with staff. Staff involvement is achieved through regular update meetings, briefings, e-mails and other correspondence which help ensure that staff are fully aware of the organisation’s goals and results.
HEALTH & SAFETY
It is the company’s policy to give the greatest importance to the health, safety and welfare of its employees. To this end, the company makes every reasonable effort to provide safe and healthy working conditions in its offices. Similarly, it is the duty of all employees to exercise responsibility and to do everything to prevent injury to themselves and to others. This policy is communicated to employees through contracts of employment and staff handbooks and policies available by intranet and hard copy.
The Board has two committees with delegated powers; these are the Audit & Risk Committee and Remuneration & Governance Panel. Separately, they have a Commercial Advisory Group who provides advice to the Board on commercial opportunities for the company.
The company has established procedures for all service and business units to regularly appraise, review and operate appropriate and effective risk management. To ensure the company’s approach is shared by all employees, on-going training takes place.
The company has accepted the principles of good governance and related internal procedures. The Board of Directors have received briefings on governance issues throughout the year and will continue to do so in the future. The Board has met on four occasions during the year. It is responsible for company strategy and dealing with key business issues. In addition to formal Board meetings, two further Board events are held each year at which Directors and the Executive look at ways of constantly improving the business, its positioning and performance. Board members also undergo an annual appraisal of their performance on the Board.
The company is a non-political organisation and its Board of Directors is made up of officers from full member organisations.
RELATIONS WITH MEMBERS
The company is committed to maintaining good communications and the provision of services and support to its members. Apart from using the variety of media to communicate with members, the Consortium’s Annual General Meeting, to which all members are invited, allows matters of interest to be raised with the Board.
The company’s website at www.northern-consortium.org.uk also contains up to date information about the company and the services and solutions it provides. In addition, members receive regular e-mail and hard copy newsletters which provide information updates, including relevant developments and related websites.
ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
The Annual General Meeting will be held on 12th November 2015.