THE SNP's new national treasurer Colin Beattie has given party members a detailed update on £600,000 raised by Yes supporters for a second independence referendum.

His statement was released on the party's website under the heading "SNP accounting and referendum funds" as its ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) met to discuss the issue yesterday.

Here is the full statement: "Questions have been raised in recent months about funds raised in response to independence related appeals since 2017 and whether all of the amounts raised will be spent directly on the campaign to win independence.

"As National Treasurer, I give an assurance that this will be the case. However, in the explanation that follows, I will also (a) set out details of the audit and financial reporting rules the Party is subject to; (b) outline the long standing internal process within the Party that will ensure that amounts equivalent to the sums raised will be spent directly on the campaign to win independence; and (c) explain why this amount doesn’t currently show as a separate fund in the Party’s accounts."

It added: 

"1. The accounts of the SNP are subject to external audit and to review by the Electoral Commission. Assurance can therefore be taken that the accounts are true and fair, and have been prepared in accordance with the Electoral Commission’s requirements.

2. Funds received by way of donations are all treated in the same way. Whether received by card or cheque or by bank transfer they are recorded as donations and accounted as such in our books. This includes reporting to the Electoral Commission where appropriate.

3. Over many decades an internal process has been in use whereby, whenever a donor expresses a wish for his/her donation to be utilised for a particular purpose, whether of his/her own accord, or because they have donated in response to a particular appeal, this is recorded within HQ and a running total of such expressions of wish recorded. This includes full details of the donor and the size of each individual donation.

4. In due course, as money is utilised for such purpose, the balance of any such total is reduced until the obligation is expunged.

5. Donations made to the independence related fundraising appeals have been treated in this way. They are recorded within HQ as being related to these appeals and amounts equivalent to the sums raised will be spent for the intended purpose. Of course, the SNP is the party of independence and, as such, every penny we spend – directly or indirectly – is in support of winning independence. However, through this internal process we will ensure that an amount equivalent to the sums raised from these appeals will go directly to our work to secure a referendum and win independence.

6. To be clear, by the end of 2020 a total of £666,953 had been raised through the independence related appeals and coded as such through the internal process. These donations are also included in – and have been reconciled with – the total amount for donations included in Party accounts from 2017 to 2020.

Up until 31st December 2020 a total of £51,760 of expenditure had been applied against this income. The balance remains “earmarked” – through the internal process explained above – for independence related campaigning. It is worth noting that there are other items of expenditure that it would have been perfectly legitimate for us to apply against this income but we have chosen not to do so. In other words, we are taking a very strict approach to ensuring that this income supports expenditure directly related to the campaign for independence.

7. The SNP is not a registered charity and does not disclose “restricted” and “unrestricted” funds in our annual accounts. While the Electoral Commission accounts preparation guidance states a party “may” identify such reserves in its annual accounts, there is no obligation to do so.

8. There has been concern expressed in some quarters that this system does not result in a separate fund being officially recorded in the annual accounts of the Party. Hence a claim from some that the money does not exist. In fact the money is “earmarked” through the internal process set out above and will be deployed fully through future cash flow for the purpose of promoting a referendum on independence and campaigns intended to secure independence. All money raised by the Party through multiple revenue sources is managed through the books of the Party and, in common with other funds is expensed and paid when required through the normal Treasury Managed cash flow of the Party. While these monies are not separated out, their existence in terms of the commitment as to what they will be spent on is tangible. The National Treasurer and the CEO have responsibility for managing cash flow and ensuring that all liabilities are met when they fall due.

9. In addition to the amount mentioned in paragraph 6 above that has been applied against the income already, we are budgeting to allocate much of the remainder for referendum/independence preparations this year. There may be a need for a further fund raising exercise early in 2022 as we approach critical political watersheds.

10. The concern expressed is that all of this is not set out as clearly and transparently as it could be has been recognised, hence the inclusion of this statement in the Annual Review and the National Treasurer and CEO are in discussions with the external auditors as to how such transparency can be achieved and improved in future years."