Training for CC chairmen


#41

I would say that most are like that, sadly though not all… I do know of more than a few CivCom chairs in different Squadrons over the years who have really only been there for the kudos of telling their chums at the Golf Club that they are Chairman of the local ATC Squadron.
I’ve also known plenty of committees who overstep their remit and try to plant themselves above the OC, trying to dictate how the squadron is run.

…We can all pick out bad examples on both sides of the coin.

Indeed it wasn’t and the money was eventually returned and the chap was convicted.

And that has absolutely jack-all to do with me or any other CFAV bar those involved.

The point is entirely that Civilians on Committees are no more or less trustworthy than anyone else. Being a charity trustee is simply a legal appointment, it doesn’t bestow some magical personal qualities. I’m not a trustee so I don’t control the monies - but there’s no legal reason why CFAV couldn’t be appointed as trustees, just like anyone else. Internally that CFAV may or may not find it difficult to keep their role as subordinate separate from their role as Trustee, but that’s a personal issue and comes down to integrity and strength of character; it’s not an across-the-board “it’s impossible” situation.

Law is all about interpretation… Legal statues are written down and then courts interpret a person’s actions to determine whether they have broken the law. Previous court decisions set a precedence which affects the interpretation of those laws in future cases. That’s how case law works.

And therein is your interpretation. There is a world of difference between “not being controlled by outside bodies” and “not being part of the same organization”.
Does the lady behind the till in the Oxfam shop not have an obligation to Oxfam head office?

The Air Cadet General Purpose Fund is the charity and it quite rightly works with the Air Cadet Council and HQAC to determine how to best use those funds for the benefit of the organization.


#42

I am but a small cog in a large wheel, as such getting ACPs redrafted is well beyond my level. All I can do is work with what is provided and lobby up the COC.

Squadrons books should be audited before the F60s go in, then looking at an F60 if the wing Treasurer feels something is not right they can go in and investigate further,.

A


#43

We are all small cogs but need to be true to our purpose.

Civilian Committee Trust accounts (and Wing I add) should be independently audited - ideally by a person with a professional qualification. The same is true of the national fund.

F60s are almost irrelevant in that until a couple of years ago the Charity Commission didn’t even know they existed and weren’t that interested about them. Actually they are not now. I suggest any reader puts in an FOI to the Charity Commission for the information from previous Under the rules of Charity Law, the Charity Commission can request and inspect the finances any excepted charity when and where it pleases. So does that mean the ACO would step in and defend members of a Civcom who believed they were acting properly? Of course not.

In my experience Wing treasurers are rarely financial experts and we have had a situation where the Wing Chairman was managing multiple squadron accounts and using a family relation to nod it through. He was caught by the police but the ACO still protected him. He has since paid a four-figure settlement to avoid going to court and continues in the organisation preaching to other squadron Civcoms as to how they should behave.

And by the way … the current ACP-11 is in breach of EU money laundering rules.

Don’t believe me? Just ask your friendly Civcom Chairman to take a copy of ACP-11 into any high street bank for review as a constitution against the squadron bank account and watch how quickly they suspend access!

Before anyone judges, I am not being negative to the ACO. Just pointing out that the World is moving on and believing that the ACO is an authority in these areas is a recipe for disaster. Squadrons need to support the organisation but have respect for the serious legal obligations that Civcom trustees undertake on their behalf so the squadron can can maximise the cadet benefit. On this area the ACO hierarchy simply hasn’t got it right and is yet does not promote the true picture by educating civilians and unformed staff alike. It is very sad but should not distract from the cadet experience … but ultimately it does.

A Wing treasurer (rarely non ex VRT) asking a few questions isn’t going to have any legal weight over a trustee losing their house (an extreme case) or suffering financial loss. Does an F60 offer legal immunity? Of course not. But I have experienced a Wing Chairman filling them in retrospectively to bluff the system and a Wing Commander controlling thousands of pounds of subs for Wing officers benefit (not the cadets). Eventual result … ? a CBE.

As has been written earlier, it is a partnership of respect, but in truth the stakes are potentially higher for any civilian parent stepping up than any other party. Fact.


#44

Actually, our Squadron accounts don’t have to be audited. They can simply be “examined by an independent examiner, that is, an independent person who is reasonably believed by the trustees to have the requisite ability and practical experience to carry out a competent examination of the accounts”.

The F60 and Wing Committees may not be able to protect trustees from liability, but that is true of all charity trustees; it’s not a RAFAC peculiarity. That is exactly why Section 189 of the Charities Act 2011 highlights the option for trustees to arrange indemnity insurance against personal liability and gives clear guidance on the framing of terms for such insurance.


#45

Apologies … I missed ‘years submissions’.

The point being, if they are wrong or there is a problem, do the ACO step up and take responsibility? No.That remains with the trustees, so the F60 is simply a bit of paper to the organisation which in itself is reasonable for the ACO to have a handle on the general position. But to suggest it is required buy the Charity Commission is simply false.

I am also deeply troubled by the Administrations Grant for a timely return of the F 60.

Why?

A portion of charitable money (subs) is paid over to the Wing for the purpose of directly benefiting cadets. That is the charitable basis on which the money was collected.

Then, some of that money, received by Wing is used for the non-charitable purpose of rewarding Civilian Committees for the timely submission of an unrequired piece of paper of no legal standing.

I realise many will argue for it, but it really would not stand up in a court of law.


#46

I disagree.

The Wing and higher pots are filled via subscriptions from the Squadron cadets. Those subscriptions are collected locally, held by the Sqn CivCom, and are then paid up the chain…

Where the F60 is returned in a timely manner, a portion of those subscriptions is returned to the Squadron funds where it will be used to directly benefit the Squadon - and thus the cadets, who are the ultimate beneficiaries.


#47

Absolutely … including interference from non-trustees from within the ACO … should that be necessary.


#48

Well… They would be indemnifying against “any breach of trust or breach of duty committed by them in their capacity as charity trustees or trustees for the charity”…

“Interference” from non-trustees is not actually an issue. In fact, as charity trustees it is their legal obligation to take advice where appropriate in making their decisions, such that the funds are used for the purpose of the charity.
Where a CivCom have no experience in the Corps other than by sitting on the committee one would expect that they would listen and take advice from the Squadron staff as to how best to consider spending the cadets’ money to benefit the cadets.

In fact, should a CivCom ignore the advice of Sqn/Wing where that advice was sound and subsequently act in a way that was questionable then they would have walked right into a problem of their own making.

I know a CivCom who recently wanted to pay a lot of money for an outdoor activity which the Squadron was already providing locally as part of their training at no cost. The CivCom through ignorance had no idea.
The OC advised the committee that paying a civilian company to provide this service would not be a good use of the funds.
That’s a sound example of the Sqn and the CivCom working together - using greater experience where necessary - to give the cadets the greatest benefit.
If the civcom had gone ahead and paid for the activity it could have been argued that by spending money needlessly bringing little benefit, they were acting not in accordance with the aims of the charity.

It would be a foolish committee who took their position as trustees to mean that they can do whatever they fancy… Particularly if it were against the advice of SMEs.

Now. Should HQAC/Wing/etc issue specific instructions to CivComs which, if acted upon, would lead the trustees to breach the Act; then certainly the trustees would be liable for breach of duty. Should we blame them? No! They were probably doing what they reasonably believed was right; and in that case HQAC/Wing/etc should be taken to task over any such orders… But the ultimate responsibility does of course lie with the CivCom to take steps to ensure that their actions, however well intentioned, are legal.

I am however not yet in a position (having not investigated it) to say that HQAC have in fact issued any guidance/instructions/or orders which could actually cause the civcom to act in a way that does not conform with their legal obligation to the charity… A number of other people have claimed that the ACPs are “against the law” but I have yet to see anyone provide evidence of this.


#49

Everything above seems to be around the current model.

Why not get rid of CWCs have a hybrid of governors’ and PTA, with elements of schools governance?

Governors’ have a more active role in how school’s run than CWCs do and headmaster and headmistresses seem mostly to appreciate an open and frank relationship with the Governors’ who in the main are parents of pupils or parents of former pupils, or former pupils, who want the school to succeed. Although the idea of a member of staff being part of the governors’ as per the staff governors voted on by members of staff, could be better to connect the staff.
They would directly involved in the appointment of a squadron commander, like CWCs are supposed to be and Wing Commander.

Something missing from the ATC is what you might call is “operational” accountability, as there is in school to the Governors’.
This could be effected by having an elected (from all squadrons not specifically chairmen/women) local body who meet 6 monthly with the Wg Cdr ex officio and a national body with CAC ex-officio, to look at the direction etc of the Wing and Corps and be able to hold senior management of the Wing and Corps directly to account. They could call RCs and others especially those with some sort of project role, to account for their progress or more correctly lack of. This body would be set up outside the CoC to hold the ‘uniform side’ to account. They should also have a role regarding the effectiveness of paid staff at Wing, Region and HQAC who seem to be totally unaccountable to anyone, but are lynch pins in the smooth running of the organisation. As a CO I was questioned by the committee about the squadron’s involvement in things and what it was doing. So why not at Wing and especially HQAC level? There would be something for CAC to FB or Twit about.

I would do away with ‘non public’ funds above squadron.

I would exclude a Region level and Region Staff (with the exception above) as they are completely irrelevant and just administrative middle fiddlers. I would get rid of the Air Cadet Council as it has always seemed to be a group of self-serving biscuit munchers and doing not a lot or less and just puppets of the RAF.

PTAs raise money for the benefit of their school outside of the DfE money used for the day to day running. My experience of PTAs is fund-raising, buying equipment, supporting pupils financially, organising social events … sound familiar? As far as I’m aware, PTAs do not hold any sort of charity status and as a parent I’ve never seen PTA accounts, but they did/bought things, so was never too worried.

Whereas in schools there is not always an overlap in governor and PTA, I would imagine more overlap in the ATC.


#50

I’m not sure about that personally…

With the greatest of respect to the people who support their local Squadron by joining the CivCom (and I am thankful to have a great committee at the moment) I have encountered too many instances of what I’ve termed “PTA Syndrome” with committees in the past.

By that I mean “The idea that by virtue of being a parent and sitting on the committee they can dictate the squadron activities, set training priorities, and basically expect the staff to run the squadron in accordance with their wishes”.

That’s not how it works and I wouldn’t like to encourage that situation in any way because it can become a royal PITA.

I’ve been in this game for 23 years, others have been in for far longer. Those of us in OC/OIC/Adj positions are generally there because we know what we’re doing (not always I’ll grant!). I don’t like being told how to run my unit by people who have no experience and are overstepping their remit in doing so.
I welcome suggestions, but I make no guarantee that I’ll impliment them.

As far as i see it the Civcom exist to support the unit. I and the other staff run the unit. We make the decisions and take the actions - we keep the CivCom appraised of the situation and approach them for financial input where needed.
The CivCom job is then to:
a. Ensure that I’m not asking to spend money frivolously,
b. Ensure that the finances can support the expenditures, and
c. Raise more money if they can’t .


#51

Has anybody here, or is anybody here in a position to try and push some of these ideas upwards ?.

Re writing ACP11 for example, if legally its not well drafted ( something a solicitor member of one of my CCs pointed out) then lets see what can be done about it. Obviously this would need to diplomatically broached with Ian Todd probably from above.

A


#52

It works in schools, but the headmaster/mistress has the final say on what happens, but the governors’ have a say in how or what happens. There is staff representation on the governors’ apart from the head. Personally as the CO, getting a query or criticism from a parent or CWC member is never a bad thing and given we are doing this in our spare time and have distractions, it might be something we’ve lost sight/track of, or not thought about. Might be hard to swallow but not a bad thing. Think about a school and they are obliged by law to do things and heads are far more accountable than any OC might be (right up to CAC), so the Head of a school getting grilling would be more serious.

PTAs have no remit in how a school runs and operates, so you must have had former governors’ not PTA. I admit when I was a CO we had people from PTAs who never really understood it wasn’t down to them what the money was spent on. The CO suggests something, it goes to a vote, although I never experienced a no to what I asked for. I know that sometimes heads suggest something to the PTA and the PTA decide and times when the PTA say we are going to, whether the head wants it or not, but by and large this is not the case. Mostly school budgets are so tight (in our school 80% is salaries) without a PTA doing what they do, many schools would not have much if anything. The PTA and Governors’ at my current school has and has had people with fingers in many pies (business people, Rotarians, Round Table et al) and the school has benefited massively. But in the Corps this sort of thing is not welcomed, as it has the potential to urinate all over someone’s fire or derail a trainset.

What the ATC lacks is someone outside the bubble properly holding people running the show to account. Imagine a situation where say could ask for CAC, COS and RCs to be replaced as they aren’t doing what is best and getting a substantial salary. That would be an interesting situation, as our current CAC wouldn’t (I imagine) be there now and it would mean anyone coming into post would know they just can’t mess around on social media. They actually have to be active in securing the best for the cadets. I have to admit in all of my years I’ve never really understood how things like CAC and RC especially are full time jobs.


#53

Sadly I have in the past.
Two previous generations of our committee were hugely obstructive. I recall for instance an occasion where the purchase of a much-needed piece of basic IT equipment was suggested at a cost of £15. Somehow the committee managed to spend all evening not making a decision (despite the pot being very healthy - into 5 figures) and then two weeks later their solution was that one of their number donated their old, crapped-out PC with the intention that I salvage the item from that instead.

There were frustratingly many other examples.

Now that I’ve finally got a committee who are on our side and who take advice from those of us who’ve been around long enough to know what we’re doing I guess that I worry about losing it… Because to end up back with the sort of meddling and obstruction that I’d experienced for 15+ years would “do my head in” as they say. :stuck_out_tongue:


#54

No they do not The chair of governors can direct a head to do things. Governors set the strategic direction of the school. they can ratify or go against the decision of a head on many things. They even employ the head.

In most good schools it is a partnership run in the best interests of the school but sometimes it goes wrong. Sometimes whole governing bodies have been sacked or heads resign.


#55

‘Diplomatically’ may not be enough.

It was Ian Todd who constructed the current ACP-11 and for a specific purpose that many have questioned the legality of. I tend to agree with the sentiment that the Wing upward would benefit from a bright torch and some probing questions.

the_silverback uses a critically important word which is ‘partnership’. When that is applied it works. I feel wdimagineer2b’s frustration at his bad experiences. This probably takes us back to the original topic of training.

In simple terms the CivCom does all of the three things that wdimagineer2b identifies, but must act to the Charities Act and is accountable to the Charity Commission, NOT the ACO. This is the nub of the imbalance for more active CivComs I feel. CO’s may well not be aware through the organisation that this is in fact the case.

(BTW … as a side issue … the communications I have seen on civilian data and Bader are woefully out of step with the impending law change known as GDPR. So I expect that to be a subject that soon features on these pages … which I also note are not currently compliant!)


#56

Governors’ may direct but the Head implements, if the Head disagrees and does it their way, there is little the Governors can do, so as such the Governors’ do not have the final say. If it causes conflict, so that’s how it is. The Head is largely hog tied by the DfE and the plethora of paper shufflers therein, so there isn’t much, as I see it, wriggle room.

The school I work in created a 6th Form many years ago against the will of the then Governors’ and has been regarded the best 6th Form in the borough for a number of years. Many children of Governors’ have benefited from this, but had the Governors’ at that time had their way, this would not have happened.

My wife was a parent governor and gave it up due to the frustration of the Headmistress having her thoughts on how things should be done and ignored the Governors’. She introduced a formal uniform and the whole of the Governing body was opposed. But the school still went down a formal uniform route and also on aspects if teaching and learning.

It works best when people work together and concensus reached, but it’s not how it always is.

Governors’ can look to replace a head, but if it is known and school’s operate a vicious rumour mill and if it was known that the Governors’ forced a head out, no one would want to take it on and then without a head or worse revolving door, the school goes into flux.


#57

The analogy with Governors / PTA is a little flawed as the school staff are paid individuals.

It must be difficult for them to accept advice / instruction from unqualified individuals who have ended up in the Governor / PTA roles though I would imagine the paycheck makes it easier to bear.

On average, compared with a CFAV, I feel that the Civ Comm’s very limited time expenditure on matter ATC, taken together with their limited knowledge does not fit them morally or technically for a more directive role than they have at present.

I’d be interested to see a poll of what Civ Comm’s actually do. In my mind, they might fall into one of several categories

Hands Off - operating in name only, driven by OC, signed off by cooperative but disinterested CC members

Helpful Basic Governance - making all required returns, operating the bank account, authorising reasonable expenditure without drilling down to the Nth degree

Helpful Basic Governance Plus - the above plus operating Gift Aid

Helpful Active Governance - the above plus identifying and applying for grants

Very Helpful Active Governance - the above plus setting up and running fundraising occasions

Unhelpful Basic Governance - like its Helpful namesake, but inserting unnecessary obstacles and over scrutiny

Active Unhelpful Basic Governance - introducing an element of ‘I know better’ / fighting the OC at every decision

I wonder if anywhere has got a CC which does it all, but is at odds with the CFAV side of things???

and shades in between!


#58

In my experience (on two units) it’s been mostly (a), sometimes (b) and on one occasion (f).

And the (f) it has to be said was largely down to one individual.

The issue for me though is that it’s usually (a), and we spend more time trying to form a committee than it would actually take to do their (bare-bones) job.


#59

Yes … I can recognise all those potential characteristics …

But this is as much a result of uniform and civilian guidance, training and understanding falling too short. CivCom bashing is obviously going to occur where a rather demotivated assembly, probably only interested in having something for their offspring to do on a weekday evening, do little to help - or worse still become obstructive.

I mentioned previously that the CivCom is responsible to the CC - perhaps a real first step would be to encourage all CivComs to register. This will probably happen over the coming years (the current ‘Excepted’ status for CivComs having been withdrawn as a new mechanism). It would perhaps focus the commitment required in an active group.

The whole thing for me revolves around the requirement for CivComs to be charitable. If they were not, then I can see many of the ideas above being up for discussion. But within RAFAC you have a cross-breed of the other two cadet organisations at this level and here is the rub. Inactive and uncommitted CivCom members is disappointing at the least. But then the answer is not for the ACO to attempt to dominate all aspects by assuming control it does not have.

If CivCom members wanted (and were accepted) into RAFAC uniform they would presumably do so and become involved. I really doubt that the initiative to see more CivCom involvement is much more than plugging a leaky ship.

So the better way I would suggest is to see things for how they are and structure around that. Recognising there will always be tales of woe on both sides, then as long as everything is legal and he boundaries are clear, there shouldn’t be a problem. As it stands, CivCom members are not members of the organisation, bound by contract or indeed anything much beyond honesty and integrity. Much of the difficulty at squadron level occurs when the lines are blurred, misunderstood or ignored in the belief that the line of command must be right.


#60

That pretty much describes all volunteers in the Air Cadets. None of us are bound by a contract, just a polite nod to rules set by people who haven’t got nor ever had the slightest clue what it actually means to be a volunteer in the Air Cadets. Any one of us can just walk away without any notice whatsoever and not have any penalty for doing so. Walk away from a job like that and it’s a different story.
I don’t think squadron commanders use Civ Comm Chairmen/women to their best advantage, as they sit outside the CoC, whatever the CoC might like to think.

But I still think we need to have a body that sits outside the bubble and can hold those at the top to account.