The law requires trade unions to have a political fund if their aims and objectives are to include political activity and campaigning.
As a result of the Trade Union Act 2016, the political fund rules changed on 1 March 2018 for all members joining the BECTU Sector of Prospect from that date.
The previous Political Fund rules continue to apply for those in membership prior to 1 March 2018.
Political fund before 1 March 2018 – BECTU Sector members (5 Divisions)
Members in England, Scotland & Wales (ES&W) were automatically opted into the Political Fund (PF) unless they chose to opt out.
Members in Northern Ireland (NI) were automatically opted out of the political fund unless they specify to opt in.
The political fund contribution was included within the BECTU subscription rate. After BECTU's merger with Prospect the rate was 5p per month. Any member who opts out, is reimbursed the relevant political fund amount every two years by cheque. These provisions continue for members recruited before 1 March 2018.
Political fund from 1 March 2018 – for Prospect and BECTU Sector members
The Trade Union Act 2016 amends previous legislation to stipulate a new political fund compliance regime. The new regime applies only to members recruited after 1 March 2018.
From 1 March 2018 all members in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are automatically opted-out of the political fund unless they choose to opt -in.
A political fund leaflet, containing an opt-in form, will be sent to all new members in their welcome pack. The form must be completed, signed and returned to the MCC before they are opted-in. NB: Reinstated members will be treated as new members and will fall under the new political fund rules. Download the opt in form.
Those who chose to opt-in, will pay a one-off fee of 60p per year. Therefore subscriptions on the system will not be discounted or adjusted as previously. Members will be reminded on an annual basis of their right to opt-out of the political fund.
The political fund's calendar year will run from 1 January to 31 December – therefore any new member opting into the fund during the year will pay a pro-rata amount. The monthly political fund contribution remains 5p.
Why does the union need a political fund?
The union needs a political fund to defend members' interests in Parliament, in Europe and on all matters of government policy and legislation. Without such a fund, we could be prevented from lobbying to change policies or legislation which affect members' working lives.
Some of the issues on which BECTU has engaged in political lobbying in recent years include:
- legislation on employment rights and statutory TU recognition;
- health and safety, equal opportunities, pensions, tax and benefits;
- BBC licence fee;
- the future of public service broadcasting and regional ITV;
- arts and theatre funding;
- film production tax incentives;
- the work permit system and its replacement;
- the opt-out from the 48-hour working week;
- upfront fees to agents;
- copyright and intellectual property rights;
- party political broadcasts by BNP.
Only trade unions are legally constrained by the need to have a political fund. Employers and other lobby groups have no equivalent restrictions on political spending. Our political fund is therefore necessary to allow us to counter employer arguments to government and Parliament.
As a sector of Prospect since 1 January 2017, BECTU operations are now governed by the Prospect rulebook.
Any member with questions about the political fund should write to firstname.lastname@example.org
Last page update 13 March 2018.