BCA finances

Stuart France

Active member
The following are some examples of sport national governing bodies that are registered as companies limited by guarantee. This selection is a bit Wales orientated but that's because of where I live. British Mountaineering Council, Ramblers Association, Lawn Tennis Association, Swim Wales,Hockey Wales, Welsh Althletics, Welsh Cycling, Welsh Badminton, Welsh Rugby Union, ... the list goes on and on. Someone could make similar lists for the other home nations.

In the caving and mine exploring world there are a few large clubs set up as companies, and some access control bodies like Charterhouse Caving Company and Cave Access Ltd. My climbing club owns four huts and, hey, it's a company too! Even the PDCMG is trying to turn itself into a company.

Presumably all of the above and many more similar bodies, did what they did for good reasons of which BCA seems blissfully unaware.


Well-known member
Presumably all of the above and many more similar bodies, did what they did for good reasons of which BCA seems blissfully unaware.
Or which don't apply to the BMC?

Setting up as a company is not without cost, additional legal hurdles and effort, so what's the advantage for the BCA?

Stuart France

Active member
Just in from BCA, its draft accounts for last year to 31/12/2023 for adoption at the council meeting tomorrow night. BCA itself spent absolutely nothing directly on:
Publications & Information
Meetings & Conference
Conservation & Access
Equipment & Techniques
Caver Training
Radon Monitoring

I appreciate that total BCA financial support to Regional Caving Councils exceeded £12,000 and that the RCCs carry out some of the above activities within their own areas so it is a matter for debate as to whether more should be done at national level. After all, BCA does have subcommittees and/or officers with titles like Publications & Information, Conservation & Access, Equipment & Techniques etc.

Stuart France

Active member
Setting up as a company is not without cost, additional legal hurdles and effort, so what's the advantage for the BCA?

As I recall, setting up Cave Access Ltd cost £50 in 2014. The process was done online by me and it didn't involve solicitors or company formation agents etc. We chose to adopt the standard documentation for companies limited by guarantee, as provided for free by Companies House. It makes it easier later on as well to be "standard" rather than "strange".

The main obstacle was in fact choosing a company name that was acceptable to Companies House.

The cost of being a company is a mere £13 a year filing fee at Companies House and the preparation of accounts which have to be done anyway - see item above about BCA accounts. Helpfully, Companies House generates dormant accounts for you with a few clicks if the company has not traded. The directors also have to file any changes of the list of directors and so forth in a timely manner, but that is also free.

So it is neither onerous nor expensive to construct things operationally so that the fincancial liability of everyone involved is extremely limited. This is the whole purpose of limited companies going back to the Limited Liability Act 1855. The clue as to the "advantage" is in the name of that Act and the status it confers.
Confirmation of the BCA membership fee increases for 2025 are now on the BCA website, along with an article about the reasons for the increase and more information about BCA spending.
There is also a pie chart - and who doesn't like a pie chart?

BCA finances.png


Staff member
Presumably descent is actually advertising?
Not exactly, it was support for the magazine paid through advertising. Around 3k a year if I remember correctly.

I was on council at the time - five or six years ago. The ex chairman came to the meeting to say he'd been having discussions with the owner of Descent and that it was struggling. This was the previous owner of course. A proposal was put forward to support Descent financially as no one wanted to see its demise as other magazines had already disappeared. The answer was for BCA to run a half page advertisement at something like 5 or £600 per issue that would support the magazine going forward. When Jane was P&I she used the space to rotate around a number of different adverts showing what BCA had to offer. In the last few years I think they have just run the same ad over and over.

As pure advertising goes it is not value for money for BCA. It probably needs a rethink and a new arrangement to get more value out of it. Perhaps a rethink as to whether BCA still has the backing of members/council to support what is a essentially a commercial magazine. By contrast ukcaving offer BCA a free board with free advertising logo etc, (this one), as we do the regions and constituent bodies that care to use us.


Well-known member
Presumably within the remit of Publications and information Officer, for which nobody appears to be standing again...


Well-known member
What is the logic for specifically including premiums doubling in future risks.
I was in charge of the BCA insurance scheme at the time of its creation and I'm also responsible for BCA's membership structure which was created so as to spread the cost of the scheme across the membership in a reasonably equitable manner.

The policy of having enough reserve cash to pay for a doubling of the premium came from real world experience, in that this is what actually happened to the costs of the policy in the years leading up to the creation of BCA.

At that time the policy was actually run by BCRA. The insurance company we were with at the time doubled the premium three or four years in a row. We later found out that they had decided that insuring cavers was not a good fit for the rest of their business and the increase in premiums was intended to try to persuade us to find another insurer but they did not actually say this at the time.

When BCRA was only paying 20 - 50p per member for insurance identifying individuals who were paying more than once through their membership of multiple clubs wasn't worth the effort. As costs rose to £10 per member and higher, it became necessary to ensure that members were only paying once and it was this that drove the formation and structure of BCA.

At the time, this was highly controversial, but I note that actually, 30 or so years later, the structure of BCA is largely unchanged.