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Thread: 2019 Census

  1. #61
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    So much of what is expected in this (and probably everywhere else in Scouting), is predicated on best case scenarios.

    In addition to what Claire said, (we've had the same situation occur more than once...) We've been as sure as we can be we had correct contact details, but when we came to use it - it wasn't. When eventually you do sort it out, no one quite knows why an email or mobile number didn't make it from the form onto OSM, or from OSM onto a phone and on and on.

    And as things progress and a lot of already put-upon volunteers find themselves having to deal with additional steps and levels of bureaucracy (in addition to actually being a leader), it probably won't improve.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daveb123 View Post
    The figures will not be skewed any more than those Groups who under report every year. We all know that they are there and it happens.
    There's a clear financial incentive to under report, and groups will take legal routes to do that (by putting off investiture until after the census even with members who have been pre-investiture for many months), "accidental" (members getting lost in sectional transfer), finger crossing (ignoring members who might have been away 2-3 weeks "in case they've left") and plain under reporting. Evidence is hard because you're accusing leaders of fraud which is a serious allegation, and because there's always a justification, and because leaders don't think of it as fraud but simply not giving money to a part of the organisation which they don't understand, use or respect.

    The solution is the membership database which Compass was expected to become, or however TSA eventually decide to implement such a scheme in time, coupled with some firm rules, like members only being "insured" (and we can debate what that means), if they're invested and on the national database, or pre-investiture for a maximum of 6 weeks. Or similar.

    Take such actions and the membership would leap 10% in a year which may even cover the costs !

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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    There's a clear financial incentive to under report, and groups will take legal routes to do that (by putting off investiture until after the census even with members who have been pre-investiture for many months), "accidental" (members getting lost in sectional transfer), finger crossing (ignoring members who might have been away 2-3 weeks "in case they've left") and plain under reporting. Evidence is hard because you're accusing leaders of fraud which is a serious allegation, and because there's always a justification, and because leaders don't think of it as fraud but simply not giving money to a part of the organisation which they don't understand, use or respect.
    There is a clear financial incentive to defraud the Scout Association and all other Groups that report concientiously.

    Groups are obliged to report their numbers on the 31st january and to pay the AMS based on those numbers. That is as plain as day.

    There is no "accidental" loss in transfer between sections, the kids are already members of one section, they will be members of the next section, they do not drop their membership between sections. Therefore to use that as an excuse for under-reporting is a tad dishonest.

    Ignoring those who may or may not leave is just as wrong. If they are members, they are members, you count them. Also, it is swings and roundabouts. If you pay for three who leave on the 1st Feb, you do not pay for the three who join on the 2nd Feb. Those who join after the census get a "free ride" till the next census.

    By underreporting, say by 10% or even 5%, that increases the costs to those who pay based on accurate figures. The leyt that District, or County add is calculated based on the numbers expected, and if the reported numbers are lower, then the cost to those who are reporting becomes higher. ie, a District that has 500 real members and needs 1000 income, levies 2 per head. If the membership is underreported, by 10%, then the 1000 gets shared across 450 instead of 500. Increasing the Levy by 23p per head.

    However, the HUGE thing for me on this was not the fraud, "accidental" or otherwise, and I think in many cases calling it "accidental" is being very kind. The HUGE issue was simple. We all took the same promise... "On my honour...to keep the Scout Law." Underreporting on the Census brakes all seven of the Scout Laws. How on earth can anyone who cannot keep the promise or adhere to the Scout Laws continue as an example to young people.

    Ach... I wonder why I didn't really fit in?
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  6. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    There's a clear financial incentive to under report, and groups will take legal routes to do that (by putting off investiture until after the census even with members who have been pre-investiture for many months), "accidental" (members getting lost in sectional transfer), finger crossing (ignoring members who might have been away 2-3 weeks "in case they've left") and plain under reporting. Evidence is hard because you're accusing leaders of fraud which is a serious allegation, and because there's always a justification, and because leaders don't think of it as fraud but simply not giving money to a part of the organisation which they don't understand, use or respect.

    The solution is the membership database which Compass was expected to become, or however TSA eventually decide to implement such a scheme in time, coupled with some firm rules, like members only being "insured" (and we can debate what that means), if they're invested and on the national database, or pre-investiture for a maximum of 6 weeks. Or similar.

    Take such actions and the membership would leap 10% in a year which may even cover the costs !
    Much of the under reporting as as you say - but a Group should be checking. If Johnny hasn't been for three weeks should they be finding out whether there is a problem or if he has left. If he has left or it is assumed that he has left because you have a know attendance policy then that should be the decision and the place filled from the waiting list (only then would someone not be invested or a member).

    The ONLY people not counted are those that are genuinely not members. Even the guidance says that a Cub moving to Scouts should be counted etc.

    So the only ones not on census are the joiners from OUTSIDE Scouting (usually but not exclusively Beavers).

    Leaders here have been accused but there is nothing you can do. Someone enters 15 on Census and week after DC goes and there are 20 all invested. Too late when figures done.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bushfella View Post
    There is a clear financial incentive to defraud the Scout Association and all other Groups that report concientiously.

    Groups are obliged to report their numbers on the 31st january and to pay the AMS based on those numbers. That is as plain as day.

    There is no "accidental" loss in transfer between sections, the kids are already members of one section, they will be members of the next section, they do not drop their membership between sections. Therefore to use that as an excuse for under-reporting is a tad dishonest.

    Ignoring those who may or may not leave is just as wrong. If they are members, they are members, you count them. Also, it is swings and roundabouts. If you pay for three who leave on the 1st Feb, you do not pay for the three who join on the 2nd Feb. Those who join after the census get a "free ride" till the next census.

    By underreporting, say by 10% or even 5%, that increases the costs to those who pay based on accurate figures. The leyt that District, or County add is calculated based on the numbers expected, and if the reported numbers are lower, then the cost to those who are reporting becomes higher. ie, a District that has 500 real members and needs 1000 income, levies 2 per head. If the membership is underreported, by 10%, then the 1000 gets shared across 450 instead of 500. Increasing the Levy by 23p per head.

    However, the HUGE thing for me on this was not the fraud, "accidental" or otherwise, and I think in many cases calling it "accidental" is being very kind. The HUGE issue was simple. We all took the same promise... "On my honour...to keep the Scout Law." Underreporting on the Census brakes all seven of the Scout Laws. How on earth can anyone who cannot keep the promise or adhere to the Scout Laws continue as an example to young people.

    Ach... I wonder why I didn't really fit in?
    I do find myself agreeing with you . A Scout is to be trusted...........

    The simple fact is it pushes the price up for others. If Groups have issues with money these should be addressed openly, and supported by district, not ignored.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daveb123 View Post
    Much of the under reporting as as you say - but a Group should be checking. If Johnny hasn't been for three weeks should they be finding out whether there is a problem or if he has left. If he has left or it is assumed that he has left because you have a know attendance policy then that should be the decision and the place filled from the waiting list (only then would someone not be invested or a member).

    The ONLY people not counted are those that are genuinely not members. Even the guidance says that a Cub moving to Scouts should be counted etc.

    So the only ones not on census are the joiners from OUTSIDE Scouting (usually but not exclusively Beavers).

    Leaders here have been accused but there is nothing you can do. Someone enters 15 on Census and week after DC goes and there are 20 all invested. Too late when figures done.
    Indeed. In my case a section in which my son was a member, with 60 Scouts turning up most weeks reported 48 on the census, yet the following Friday there were 55 present with a few away for sickness or activities. That was a delicate conversation, as Ewan observes that leader may well not belong in the movement by the Scout law. However, they've justified it to themselves and are running a very successful section by every other measure. So taking more draconian approach might simply result in the loss of leader - who in this case was 90% of the reason why so many Scouts gained from their membership of his troop.

    I'm pleased to report that the next year the census numbers leapt up and seemed much more reliable, and have been ever since, but should we, as district team members, have to go round on the 5th of February checking census numbers?
    Last edited by RisingStar; 18-01-2019 at 12:25 PM.

  9. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    .... should we, as district team members, have to go round on the 5th of February checking census numbers?
    If that is what is required, yes.

    There needs to be more emphasis on the Law and Promise amd how it is applied in Scouting and in life.

    Navigators have the Moral Compass

    Moral Compass
    As a Navigator, I promise to do my best to create a world free of prejudice and ignorance.
    To treat people of every race, creed, lifestyle and ability with dignity and respect.
    To strengthen my body and improve my mind to reach my full potential.
    To protect our planet and preserve our freedom.

    Which is fine but I find it kind of nebulous, which of course is what it is meant to be.

    There are times when I wish I could use the Law and Promise like we used to. Much simpler to get across than the open Moral Compass.
    Ewan Scott

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  10. #68
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    If we haven't seen a member since the start of January (or before) then we do contact their parents before the 31st Jan to clarify whether they have left or not. For example we just contacted a parent and found out that a Cub and a Scout have left as their family moved out of Leeds before Christmas but both parents thought the other one had let us know about the move.

    We only admit new members at the start of half terms and so those admitted to Beavers at the start of January are never members by 31st Jan so we do consistently end up at least a couple of Beavers lower than we typically run at. I'd say that is the fault of the census date as I am sure this is fairly typical across the country given there's a min 3 weeks to meet the membership badge requirements.

    We are always very careful not to double count those that have/are transitioning between sections but we a scrupulous in ensuring they are recorded in one of the Sections.

    Peter Andrews AESL of Headingley Pirates ESU, Group Scout Leader & Webmaster of Falkoner Scout Group
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    Please note all views expressed are my own and not those of any organisation I'm associated with

  11. #69
    Very Old Member BigBadBaloo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RisingStar View Post
    ,........but should we, as district team members, have to go round on the 5th of February checking census numbers?
    That is sort of what happens at the time of the National Census (or did when I was a census enumerator some years ago), so I guess the answer is yes if you want the numbers to be as a accurate as possible. Mind you, the National Census is only once every 10 years, not annually!
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBadBaloo View Post
    That is sort of what happens at the time of the National Census (or did when I was a census enumerator some years ago), so I guess the answer is yes if you want the numbers to be as a accurate as possible. Mind you, the National Census is only once every 10 years, not annually!
    One could almost justify a penalty for incorrectly declared numbers against Groups, such as doubling the fee for any undeclared members.

    It's long been the case that "A Scout is to be trusted...except when completing the Census", which is really quite bad. I like to use the term "census fraud" as that is what wilfully misdeclaring is.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigBadBaloo View Post
    That is sort of what happens at the time of the National Census (or did when I was a census enumerator some years ago), so I guess the answer is yes if you want the numbers to be as a accurate as possible. Mind you, the National Census is only once every 10 years, not annually!
    The issue though is that to check someone would need to visit every section of every Group / ESU BEFORE the census figures are approved by District otherwise these is no point other than to point the finger at the section leader and GSL as once the figures are in and approved it is too late.

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    Quote Originally Posted by daveb123 View Post
    The issue though is that to check someone would need to visit every section of every Group / ESU BEFORE the census figures are approved by District otherwise these is no point other than to point the finger at the section leader and GSL as once the figures are in and approved it is too late.
    Spot checks would be practical, though.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Neil Williams View Post
    Spot checks would be practical, though.
    In my experience, if you listen to the Leaders chatting they will tell you their numbers. That's how I knew to check on one Group. The SL couldn't stand knowing that I had a bigger group so he made it clear how many Scouts he had - so when the census came in I knew he was short
    Ewan Scott

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    At one point in our patch, places for an event were issued the week after census, with the allocated number of places for each unit exactly matching their census numbers. A very limited number of extra places were held in reserve only, to allow for a handful of post-census recruits. Cue assorted anguished protests that the allocation of invitations was significantly short of their unit's needs . . .

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    I think a different approach should be taken to collecting the numbers. I think the idea of a snapshot on one day of the year does not make very much sense.

    It seams to me that the census is designed to fullfil two different objectives:

    1. collect statistical information that can be used for promotion, planning, grant applications etc.
    2. setting the amount that needs to be paid for the year ahead (or is it the year just gone?)

    For (1) is does not really matter if you are a few out either way - once it is summed up at a national level the errors would cancel each other out.
    For (2) what matters is that the amount you pay is in proportion to the number of members you have throughout the year - as it is this that affects your income as a Group.

    Picking an arbitrary single day to collect those numbers is bound to encourage some 'gaming' of the system. It would be much more sensible to report an average over the previous year rather than a snapshot figure.

    If you did it by a yearly average you could also use the Group accounts as a check. You can certainly look at our accounts and simply divide the subs income by the cost we charge per member to give you the notional number of members that we have had during the previous year (it takes a bit of work because we have a "leaders kids" rate for some members). It would also be very difficult to fake the number without hiding income, which really would be a case of fraud.

    Paying for this notional average would be a much fairer payment than paying for the number that we happen to have on the 31st of Jan.

    For instance, last January was a unusual high point for us. We recorded 214 members on or about the 31st Jan. But looking at the accounts for the whole year we only had an average of 205 members.

    I suspect that the previous year we were the other way around.

    We do not record the number of members that happen to be on camp on the 31th Jan - we record the number of nights away over the whole year. I think we should do something similar for the members to.

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