How do the party’s central finances look in the run-up to the general election?

With the Liberal Democrat spring federal conference just round the corner, the latest report from the party’s Federal Finance and Administration Committee (FFAC) is out. It gives the chance to compare the party’s finances now with five years ago.

The good news bit

The federal party’s core activities are generating significantly higher income.

General fund surplus after income generation costs:

2004 £2,642,253
2009 £3,214,500

That 22% increase is impressive, particularly given the recession in 2009 and its impact on fundraising.

The no news bit

The federal party’s debts have not changed much over the last five years, with only a very small rise in the accumulated deficit on the general fund:

2004 £154,000
2009 £158,000

The please donate bit

However, the party’s real challenge is to fund an intense level of campaigning through a five year, rather than a four year, Parliament. With many donations, particularly the larger ones, made towards ‘the next general election’, a five year Parliament runs up extra costs but does not bring in extra income in the same way.

As a result, the accumulated campaign fund surplus going in to the general election year is much lower this time round:

2004 £780,000
2009 c.£250,000

However, the party is very bullish about its financial prospects this year, with the FFAC report saying that for the Campaign Fund in 2010, “Total income is budgeted to be around £4m, which is substantially higher than in any previous general election year”.

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