In the first of the 2022-23 series of annual report news posts, the Directors present their report and the financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2023.
Please note this is an excerpt from the full Directors’ Report and Annual Accounts, published ahead the 2023 AGM. The full report can be found here.
For the year ending March 2023, British Fencing (BF) continued to make progress on our strategic objectives, which we report on below for our members, funding partners and stakeholders.
Our vision is for a strong, successful, and sustainable fencing community with a mission to inspire and enable people to start, stay and succeed in fencing underpinned by our core values of honesty, respect, and excellence.
Our strategic objectives are:
To deliver our objectives the Board prioritises and monitors, through agreed performance indicators, seven strategic areas:
1. Leadership, Culture and Governance
The Board believes it is important to lead by example furthering the BF values of Honesty, Respect and Excellence. We have continued to provide transparency through updates to members throughout the year and to support the BF executive team. Board members remain involved in many aspects of our sport on a volunteer basis, allowing interaction with the wider community but also providing ‘real life’ input and feedback to Board decisions.
The Board has increased financial support to delivering safeguarding (both increasing case management capacity and delivering additional education and training) and remains committed to supporting the fencing community in creating environments where participants can be safe, have fun and be welcomed.
The Board notes that there are two areas which require action to fully comply with the recently revised UK Code for Sports Governance. The actions are to bring together all our existing staff and workforce development plans under one ‘People Plan’ and secondly to perform an external Board evaluation, which will be revisited following the 2023 elections.
It remains our aim to be a well-run National Governing Body taking a proportionate, best practice approach to implementation according to this code.
During the year there were the following changes to the BF Board:
2. Sustainability and Core Services
Financial sustainability remains important to us and our aim is to set and meet a broadly balanced budget each year.
The Board authorised a budgeted deficit of £3,174 for 2022-23 and we achieved a result similar to budget with a deficit of £3,674. The Board continue to monitor financial management and risk through the AGRC chaired by Francis Wilkinson.
Our strategy to increase commercial revenues remains, as this revenue provides important flexibility to fund our core NGB activity of supporting and growing the sport of fencing.
Commercial revenues continue come from 3 sources; coach education, licensing of the BF brand and our newly launched We Are Forging Futures programme – a comprehensive programme of inclusive, engaging and immersive learning experiences designed for 4-14 year-olds based on fencing.
3. Membership & Club Support
Membership income is vital to us building a financially resilient organisation that can deliver better services to members and clubs.
Knowing who our members are is also vital for us to deliver appropriate and relevant services to individuals and clubs which includes ensuring that everyone participating in fencing in any capacity is covered by insurance.
Our policy that BF membership is required for all affiliated club and licensed event participation remains in place.
Membership income for the year came in at £386,615 (compared to £322,397 in 2021-22). £152,918 of this was paid on to the Home Country Associations (compared to £112,254 in 2021-22) leaving £233,697 available to BF to support delivery of those services.
England Fencing continue to fund a Development Officer for Clubs and Regions and contribute to the additional cost of safeguarding case management in England providing valuable support in the absence of public funding to support this area.
4. GBR Athlete Support & Development
During the year we have continued to focus on delivering our Athlete Development Programme. The BF Athlete Development Programme (ADP) is a six weapon programme, based on the BF Fencer Pathway Model, that exists to support athletes in achieving GBR Olympic success and inspiring others. It covers athletes from age 15 to 35 (and beyond for those performing at Olympic level) who are moving through a defined development pathway to success at the highest level of fencing.
Funding sources included England DiSE, Sport England ‘Talent‘, UK Sport Progression
Following on from transfer of responsibilities from British Disability Fencing, BF have been working to integrate wheelchair fencing into the lower ends of the pathway offering, and supporting the work of UKSI in delivery of the Para Fencing World Class Programme funded by UK Sport.
Performance progress in the U17 and U20 notably improved with start of the financial year delivering some of the best results at the 2022 U17 and U20 World Championships in the history of British Fencing, with further successes in 2023 European and World Championships.
Notable achievements included:
5. Insight led, participant centred Projects and Programmes
In 2022-23 our portfolio of project and programmes saw us continue to work with partners and stakeholders to support deliver of fencing in targeted communities:
Findings from our Autistic Spectrum Disorder pilot, funded by Kings College London and supported by the Change Foundation and Sport England concluded that the fencing intervention shows improvements within core physiological aspects of children with ASD and impacts their everyday skills.
These projects continue to make a measurable difference to a range of communities. These underpin our belief that fencing can and should be a sport that is accessible to all, increasing exposure of more people to the benefits of sport and physical activity as well as improved mental wellbeing.
6. Events, Competitions and Calendars
It has been a challenging year for our Events portfolio. Whilst BF continue to deliver high quality competitions that receive consistently high feedback from our athletes, the financial challenges have increased significantly, in line with the sharp increase in the cost of living. Finding affordable venues large enough to accommodate BF competitions is becoming increasingly challenging, with the costs around venue hire and volunteer and official accommodation increasing dramatically. As a result of these challenges and the financial strain they place on the organisation, we have had to carefully consider the competitions BF can continue to run, in order to protect the reserves and long-term sustainability of the organisation. Maximum entry fee limits alongside changes to the competitions imposed by international federations created unsustainable levels of losses, and as a result BF will no longer be running the international events (The Eden Cup and the London Cup).
7. Coaching & Workforce Development
We have delivered more coach education opportunities than ever before – through a combination of BF led delivery and licensed education partners.
The uptake of certificated coach development opportunities at club is re-establishing itself, with the type and variety of development opportunities for coaches increasing. These included BF’s first online Learning Week, a series of webinars on several subjects across the coaching domains, Community, Development, and Performance. The development of on-line content continues to build, enhancing and linking to formal course as well as bespoke content to support the Licensed Partners. We continue to invest in upgrading courses and creating new tools to support existing coaches working in different environments.
Overall, the Board is pleased with progress this year and would like to thank all the staff at BF for their hard work. Of course, a massive thanks also to the volunteers for their commitment in support our sport.
As at 31.03.2023, 50% of the occupied Director positions are women (6 of 12) and 50% are men.
As at 31.03.2023, 25% of the occupied Director positions are ethnically diverse (3 of 12) and 17% are Black (2 of 12).
The Board met its targets in respect of gender diversity (minimum 30% of either gender) and other identified protected diversity characteristics. The Board continues to work towards maintaining gender diversity and increasing ethnic diversity, representation from young people, and people with disabilities.
As at 31st March 2023, 2/5 members (40%) of the BF Senior Executive Team with senior leadership responsibilities were women.
In November 2016 a new Code for Sports Governance was published which sets out a range of requirements that BF and other organisations in sport must meet to be eligible for public funding.
BF became fully compliant in 2017-18 and the Board regularly reviews this status. Much of the work to remain compliant is embedded into the work programme of the Board and policies and activities are reviewed and performed in accordance with the annual Board work programme.
In 2022 an external appointed auditor completed a governance review on behalf of Sport England and UK Sport confirming BF compliance to the Code.
Further to that audit, the Code for Sports Governance has been updated and there are two outstanding areas for the organisation to address:
3.4 Each organisation shall have a People Plan and shall review and discuss it on at least an annual basis and share the findings of that discussion openly with its members and people (e.g. employees, volunteers).
BF has in place the majority of the elements of a people plan (staff performance management, coaching plans, referee development plan etc) however these are not currently documented as one overall plan as described by the Governance Code. Work is underway to draw all the plans together to meet this requirement.
4.3 The Board shall:undertake an externally facilitated evaluation of the Board at least every four years, or at the request of UK Sport/Sport England
This requirement will be reviewed after the elections in 2023.
2022-23 Annual Report Series – Related Posts
Links to the each section of the 2022-23 Annual Report series will be available here when published.
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