Lib Dems' £550k deficit, 8.5% membership drop, and other facts from the party's annual accounts

by Stephen Tall on July 30, 2009

The Electoral Commission has just published online the latest sets of financial accounts for the main parties, including the Liberal Democrats, for the year end 31 December 2008. You can read the party’s statement of accounts HERE. For those who don’t want to wade through its 28 pages, though, here are a few of the sexier snippets:

  1. The Liberal Democrats had, by some way, the largest pre-tax deficit of any of the 11 political parties whose income and expenditure figures are published – the party’s income was £5.47 million against expenditure of £6.01m, a pre-tax deficit of £540,700. The report notes, ‘As a general election must be held within the next 12 months, it is vital to build the Party’s fund raising capacity’.
  2. Donations in 2008 accounted for £1.5m of income, against £1.9m in 2007. Income from membership and subscriptions was up very slightly at £808k. Net conference income was up significantly: £558k in 2008, compared with 415k in 2007.
  3. The bulk of the party’s expenditure falls in three main areas: staff costs (£1.75m), campaigning (£1.6m) and premises and office costs (£0.68m).
  4. Taking into account the actuarial loss on the party’s pension scheme (due to poor returns on the scheme’s assets) the toal recognised loss for the party in 2008 was £670,665.
  5. The party’s deficit on Liberal Democrat News decreased slightly, from £12.6k in 2007 to £11.6k in 2008.
  6. As at 31 December 2008, the Liberal Democrats had 59,810 members, down from 65,400 in 2007 – that’s a drop of 8.5%, bigger than Labour’s 6% drop in 2008.
  7. On Michael Brown’s £2.4m donations via 5th Avenue Partners Ltd:

    The Electoral Commission and the Party’s lawyers have both subsequently confirmed that it was reasonable for the Party to have treated these [as permissible donations]. The Electoral Commission is however entitled to review the permissibility of these donations if new evidence emerges. … The Party’s lawyers have advised that it is very unlikely … any claims in respect of these donations would be successful, therefore no provision has been made in the Party’s financial statements for the repayment of such sums.