Covid-19 and the FRMS

Dear Colleague,

This is to reassure you that members of the FRMS Committee are aware that many affiliated societies are concerned about the effects the continuing pandemic is having on their resources and their obligations to the Federation, as well as to others such as the owners of their meeting places.

As far as the Federation is concerned the annual payment made by a society is made up of:

  1. The affiliation fee. Income from this covers the expenses involved in administration of the Federation’s affairs. Whilst the pandemic has resulted in Committee meetings being held online, thus saving travel and subsistence expenses, other expenses remain, one source being in communicating with affiliates, such as printing costs, stationery and postage for the Newsletter.
  2. Performing Right Society (PRS) and Phonographic Performance Limited (PPL) licence fees. These are determined by PRS/PPL for each society depending on the number of members and frequency of meetings. A society can opt for ‘associate’ rather than ‘affiliate’ status if it is covered by a licence held by the owners of their meeting place, whereas the licence obtained through the FRMS covers the society wherever it meets. Clearly, with societies unable to meet because of the pandemic there is scope for these fees to be reduced and the FRMS Treasurer is in discussion with PRS/PPL on this issue.
  3. Insurance. There are two elements to this – public liability insurance and equipment insurance. The public liability policy held by the Federation covers each affiliate for claims up to £2,000,000 and in these litigious times the Committee considers such cover essential. Even if the hazards associated with meetings (personal injury, damage to the building, etc) are currently minimal it is conceivable that a society could be held liable for the consequences of unwittingly breaking lockdown restrictions.

    Equipment insurance is, of course, optional, but even in lockdown theft is possible and if a society’s meeting place is unoccupied it may be a more tempting target than normal for thieves. (There is a separate issue here with our insurance brokers as to how and when the premium is paid, but this is not relevant to the need for insurance.)

The Committee discussed the current situation at some length at a recent meeting. Unfortunately the situation is highly complicated; some payments by FRMS have already been made on behalf of societies, and some of these such as insurance may not be readily recoverable. The position will vary from society to society and we may not be able to resolve it until the national policy becomes clearer.

Finally, we have been advised of a number of society closures where it seems that Covid has been the ‘last straw’ in a situation of declining membership. Whilst we sincerely hope that your society will not find itself in that situation may I ask that, if you are considering closure in these circumstances, you notify the Federation Secretary as soon as possible in order to minimise expense both to yourselves and to the Federation.

As we approach an unwelcome anniversary, that of the start of lockdown, there are nevertheless signs of hope in the rollout of vaccines against Covid-19. It is still unclear how soon restrictions will be relaxed but we look forward to better times for societies and the Federation in 2021.

With all good wishes to you and members of your society.

Yours sincerely,

Allan Child (Chairman, FRMS)