Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to questions you may have about our proposed merger with the British Lung Foundation. We hope they are helpful. If you have any additional questions, or want to clarify any aspect of our proposal, please contact us at companysecretary@asthma.org.uk. We will upload any new frequently asked questions at regular intervals to this page.

 

Q) What is the proposal?

We are proposing a merger between Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation. The proposal offers a real opportunity to save money on running costs and invest more money in world-leading research and support services.

The two charities would become one – the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership. Core Asthma UK charitable activities – for example, our research programmes, nurse helpline, website, and Asthma Magazine – would continue.

Q) Why are you proposing to merge with the British Lung Foundation?

The external environment is getting tougher for everyone, including charities, and we are constantly looking for ways to make our money go further. We have developed a proposal that offers a real opportunity to save money on running costs (such as our office, computer systems, insurance, proper accounting and good management) and invest more in world-leading research and support services.

The proposed partnership builds on the successful collaboration between Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation over the last few years. Together, as a partnership of equals, we would share our combined energy and passion to make a difference for all people affected by asthma and other lung diseases and become a stronger, more powerful voice for change.

We have considered in detail the risks and benefits of the proposed merger and taken expert legal and financial advice to inform our decision.

Q) Why are Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation proposing to merge now?

The external environment is getting tougher for everyone, including charities. We are constantly looking for ways to make our supporters’ money go further. We have developed a proposal that offers a real opportunity to save money on running costs and to invest more money in world-leading research and support services.

In line with the Charity Governance Code, we regularly consider the potential benefits and risks of working more closely with or merging with other charities who work in similar areas. Over the years we have had a number of discussions with the British Lung Foundation and together we now feel the time is right to join forces. By doing so we would save money on running costs which would give us greater strength and sustainability. We firmly believe we would be better and stronger together and would be able to help more people affected by asthma and other lung diseases.

Q) What benefits would a merger bring for those affected by asthma?

A merger would allow us to share running costs which would make our supporters’ money go even further. More of every pound we spend would help people affected by asthma. We expect that, once integration is complete, the merger could release up to £2 million each year to fund more research and widen the reach of support services for asthma and other lung diseases.

Jointly, we would be a coordinated and powerful voice for change. Working in partnership with a shared ambition, we are confident we would be able to do much more for people with asthma and other lung diseases.

Q) How much will the merger save?

We expect that, once integration is complete, the merger could release up to £2 million each year to fund more research and widen the reach of support services for asthma and other lung diseases.

Q) What does this mean for me and other members?

You would not see any major change in your day to day interactions with us. You would continue to receive all the asthma-related benefits you do now. We would continue to send you Asthma Magazine twice a year and keep you up to date with the latest asthma-related news, health advice and research, and the different ways you can help support our work.

We plan to keep the individual Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation brands, research programmes specific to each organisation, nurse helplines and websites – and benefits such as the Asthma Magazine. All donations for asthma would continue to be committed to investment in research and support for those affected by asthma.

Q) What would the name of the new charity be, and how does that impact Asthma UK’s brand?

The merged charity would be called the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership. We plan to retain and continue to use our individual identities – both Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation. For example, our marathon runners would continue to run for Team Asthma UK, and you would continue to access support and information via our Asthma UK nurse helpline and website.

Q) What if I donate, fundraise, or leave money in my will to Asthma UK, will it be spent on asthma?

Absolutely, yes! All donations for asthma would continue to be committed to investment in research and support for those affected by asthma.

Q) What will happen to Asthma UK’s current assets?

They would remain committed to asthma and used to advance medical research, expert advice and support, and campaigning for asthma. Asthma UK would make a proportionate contribution to the administrative costs of the newly merged charity. Once integration is complete and the costs of merger met, this would be significantly lower than our current running costs.

Q) How will people with asthma shape the work of the charity in the future?

We will continue to ensure the voices of people with asthma are heard and that they are involved in and shape our work in a number of ways. Half of our patient ‘think tank’ will be made up of people with asthma. We also have over 200 research and policy volunteers who will continue to sit on research projects and help shape and drive the quality and relevance of asthma research. We will continue to base all our research, policy and campaigning activities on feedback from people with asthma via our annual care survey and through project-specific consultation with targeted groups, for example, people with severe asthma.

Q) Will asthma become one priority of many in a multi-condition charity?

No, the merger would be a partnership of equals. We would share our combined energy and passion to make a difference for all people affected by asthma and other lung diseases and become a stronger, more powerful voice for change. We have discussed and agreed what legal arrangements would need to be in place to make sure that the focus on asthma was not diluted alongside other lung diseases in the new partnership’s work.

Q) Why am I being asked to support a change to Asthma UK’s Articles of Association?

The simplest answer is to make sure the merger can work as efficiently as possible. While the new merged charity, the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership, would continue the work done previously by Asthma UK in terms of its charitable purposes, the existing Asthma UK charity (as a legal entity) would also be retained. It would sit within the new merged organisation. This is being done to make sure we do not lose any future gifts in people’s wills that have been specifically left to Asthma UK. It means these legacy donations can be legally transferred to the merged charity for use in connection with asthma as they were intended. To simplify the administration of this charity (and so free up more funds for asthma-related purposes) we would like its governance to be simplified. This means that instead of having a large number of individual members, the merged charity would become its only member under company law.

The purpose of the Extraordinary General Meeting is to ask for your approval to make this change to the Articles of Association of Asthma UK and help us to make the merger work as efficiently as possible.

We urge you to vote for the change and support the resolution so we can help more people affected by asthma.

We would still want and appreciate your continued support for our charitable activity to help people affected by asthma.

Q) What if I don’t agree with the resolution?

It is of course for you as a member to decide how to vote. You can either attend the meeting to vote or vote via proxy.

We, of course, respect your view but do urge you to support the resolution outlined in the accompanying papers and ask you to help us ensure the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership is set up in the most efficient way. The proposed change would help us do more for people affected by asthma and other lung diseases. We would be able to spend more on funding world-leading research and providing support services. We would also become a coordinated and more powerful voice for change.

Leading experts in asthma and lung health agree we would be much stronger together and support our proposed merger. They believe it would bring real benefits for people affected by asthma and lung disease.

Q) What if I can’t attend the Extraordinary General Meeting?

Any members of Asthma UK who can’t attend the meeting are entitled to appoint another person or the Chairman as a proxy to attend and vote at the meeting on their behalf. The appointment must be made through the completion of the appropriate form in the members’ pack. Forms must be returned to the Company Secretary, Asthma UK, 18 Mansell Street, London E1 8AA no later than 5pm on 27th November 2019.

Q) If members support the resolution, what will happen next?

The Council of Asthma UK and the Board of the British Lung Foundation have both carefully considered the case for this merger. We have completed thorough due diligence (which is an independent and comprehensive assessment of both charities) to make sure that the merger would deliver real benefits for Asthma UK’s supporters and those affected by asthma. It is on the strength of that work that your Council of Trustees is recommending you vote for the proposed resolution. If members agree to the proposed resolution, the next steps would be:

a. obtaining the formal consents that may be required from the relevant charity regulators in England and Wales, in Scotland and the Isle of Man;

b. the merger would take effect by the transfer of Asthma UK’s assets and operations, as well as Asthma UK itself, to the merged charity, to be called the Asthma UK and British Lung Foundation Partnership.

We expect that the merger would take effect at the end of this year.


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