Current ‘odds’ are in favour of Scotland staying as a part of the UK following the Scottish Referendum on 18 September, but what if it swings the other way? The government has been criticised for ‘sleep-walking’ over recent months, however is your association or membership organisation also having a bit of a snooze?
Health Warning – This Blog post has the potential to be incredibly political, so let’s be clear from the outset that it has been written to ensure membership bodies are prepared for a potential change that could have a big impact in areas that span membership, governance, regulation, legal, and beyond.
There are a number of key assumptions currently in play, however one potential outcome is that Scotland could become an independent country from 18 September. Based on this potential outcome all assets and liabilities in Scotland would almost certainly become Scottish and the country would need to apply to join the European Union. It is unlikely that passport border controls would be put in place and sterling would remain the currency of choice.
Question – How could this impact membership organisations and associations?
Answer – We explore the potential impact below!
1) Membership – If you have a UK membership category you will need to consider either continuing to include members living/working in Scotland or creating a new category. It is worth evaluating what your organisation currently does in the Republic of Ireland as this model could be replicated relatively easily.
2) Corporate Governance – Check wording in your Charter, articles of association, by-laws, rules, regulations, ordinances and resolutions to ensure inclusive mentions of Scotland/Scottish activity within the UK is changed/amended as and where appropriate/needed. Your Company Secretary should be on top of this.
3) Local Activity – If you have local branches and sections it is unlikely that independence will change any of their day-to-day functions, however it is useful to consider if there will be an impact.
3) Regulation – There’s current wrangling over potential Scottish laws, however it is worth considering if your organisation’s role/remit has the potential to change. Most membership bodies see it as prudent to network/lobby with all governments/parties/civil servants so ensure strong connections are maintained no matter what the referendum result.
4) Law – If a ‘Yes’ vote is achieved the Scottish law will change and there will be opportunities that membership bodies should be aware of. E.g. A Rural Connectivity Commission is proposed and this could have a positive impact on members living/working in rural areas of Scotland.
5) Cost – It is not expected that costs would change dramatically for membership bodies, however it is worth considering that companies like Standard Life have warned that they may move their operations of Scotland if this is so.
In the lead up to the Scottish Referendum on 18th September we recommend that your association or membership organisation should create and have ready a basic Positioning Statement. Don’t ‘make a meal of it’ but clearly communicate what will stay the same and what is likely to change. It should be created in association with Scottish members and related branches, sections, committees, boards and signed-off by a senior stakeholder. E.g. CEO/Chair/President.
Find out more about the Scottish Referendum…
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