North West Region of U3As

Your Questions Answered

All about Networks
Network is a generic term for groups of U3As which have chosen to work together for support and the mutual benefit of the members of the U3As concerned. They form organically and are not imposed by any external source. They adopt various titles to suit their style and their purpose e.g. link, forum or association.

What is the difference between a Network and a Region?

A network is organic in that it is formed by consenting U3As. It may be large or small, completely informal or governed by a constitution. A region is in effect a constituency. The UK is divided into 9 English regions and the three countries of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales for electoral purposes with each region nominating and electing a trustee to the National Executive Committee. In some parts of the country the network and the region are the same geographically.

What is the relationship between Networks and Regions?

It varies. Some networks have no contact with their region while others operate independently, but invite their Regional Trustee to meetings. In some regions, the networks are fully integrated into the structure and send representatives to regional/regional support meetings.

Do all U3As have to belong to a network?
No. Membership of a network is voluntary.

Why should a U3A join a network?

It provides the opportunity to share the load of running a U3A with others in the same situation and to look beyond what one U3A offers, to what others are doing. If your U3A does not participate, there is a danger that it will become inward looking and isolated as well as depriving members of potential
benefits. However, it is entirely your decision.

Do we have to join the nearest one to us?

Can a U3A belong to more than one network?
Yes. Some U3As choose to belong to more than one network especially if they are situated on county borders. Additionally, in some places there may be small networks of, say, four or five neighbouring U3As working together inside a larger network.

Do networks have set boundaries?
Boundaries vary with local practice and are determined by the member U3As so they may or may not
follow county boundaries. They may also cross regional boundaries.

What do networks do?
This depends on what the member U3As forming the Network want and can offer but it may include:-

  • Developing and sharing lists of potential speakers.
  • Maintaining and sharing a database of all study/interest groups in member U3As
  • Organising network study/interest days for members of the network's U3As (and sometimes neighbouring U3As).
  • Organising training/information events for U3A committee members and potential committee members.
  • Organising support for group leaders.
  • Organising shared learning projects.
  • Organising an annual conference for member U3As.
  • Establishing relationships with universities, including the OU, schools etc, for the benefit of U3A members.
  • Providing a regular forum for member U3As to meet together to share good practice and discuss issues of mutual concern e.g. growth patterns, waiting lists.
  • Setting up reciprocal interest group arrangements between participating U3As.
  • Producing a newsletter.
  • Arranging inter-U3A competitions.
  • Setting up local initiatives.
  • Setting up e-mail lists for speedier communication.
  • Increasing opportunity to establish links with outside organisations.
  • Sharing information on available grants.
  • Increasing awareness of U3A in the community.
  • Sharing resources.
  • Offering a local platform for individual U3As to get their views across.

Do networks co-operate with one another?
It is up to the member U3As to decide but there are good examples of networks coming together to organise conferences, residential schools, study days and social events as well as sharing good practice, speaker lists etc.

How are networks organised?
It varies. Networks choose their own organisational structure. Some are very informal with no constitution or procedural rules, no committee and no bank accounts. Instead the U3As take it in turns to organise meetings and events. Other networks may prefer to have a constitution, which governs the running of the network and defines frequency of meetings, rules for elections to the committee, banking arrangements etc.

How are networks funded?
Many networks levy a small capitation fee on their member U3As. Others charge one flat rate or a fee related to membership bands. Some choose not to do this and ensure that all events are self-funded, but it is important that networks remain solvent. Networks and other groupings of U3As can also apply for funding from the Third Age Trust to hold workshops upon topics related to U3A activities, such as membership, newsletters, group leaders etc

What involvement does the Third Age Trust have with networks?
The Trust is extremely supportive of networks and recognises the important part they play in both the lives of individual U3As and the movement as a whole.

Third Age Matters

A reminder


Q1 Can I arrange to have a bulk delivery to a single address?

A1 No – one address – will get one magazine

Q2 What is the final cost of subscription

A2 £2.15 for 5 issues

Q3 What to do when new members join part way through the subscription period.

A3 There are 3 windows a year to send a new list of addresses so add them in then

Q4 What to do when new members leave part way through the subscription period; is there a refund or can the balance be used by a new subscriber.

A4 As above – take them off and send new list

Q5 What to do when members change address during the subscription period.

A5 Amend the address on your list and send list during the window to send new lists

Q6 It is OK for a U3A to simply maintain its own full list (post code checked) amended as necessary and resend it in its entirety just prior to each publication deadline date. Then what if the total row count has gone up or down. The cost per member is I believe £2.15 per 5 issues, therefore £0.43 per member per issue so if a new contributor joins part way through should we submit the subscription for the balance of the period (£1.68 for 4, £1.26 for 3 etc.). Our list has been post code checked and any updates will be post code checked.

A6 A reconciliation is done at the end of subscription year and your account is credited or debited depending on how many mags you actually had sent during the year (April to April)


Ref Document downloads - Information booklets - Insurance Information

Q1 Can you give more information on what is covered by the New Insurance Policy

A1 Click on the reference ‘Insurance Information’ to read, ‘Overview of the insurance policies provided by The Third Age Trust for all U3As’


Ref Risk Assessment Check List

Q1 Do I need to PAT test my Electrical appliances

A1 National Office advise U3As to check their plugs and cables regularly to ensure they are fit for purpose.
Portable Appliance Testing (PAT) regulations indicates that PAT applies only to electrical equipment at work and in public places. Such testing is not required by U3A insurance. However if the venue stipulates that any electrical equipment requires PAT testing before its use on their premesis then you must compily with their request
See Checklists on NO website
Further information -


Information update

CAF bank are going to introduce high volume cheque transaction charges with effect from May 1st 2013. Please check with your bank any charges levied on your main account and second (social) account.

Ref – Information booklets - Information for Treasurers

Q1 Can I pay a speaker who is not a member of U3A and wants the cheque written out to his charity.

A1 You cannot make a donation to another charity but we can pay them for services e.g. speakers. This is because we are then using OUR money in pursuance of OUR aims which is legitimate

Q2 Do I need 2 accounts for my U3A, a social account and a main account

A2 Small U3As may manage with a single account but it must be VERY clear which money belongs to the social account and which to the main account. In practice it is much better and clearer to keep 2 accounts.

Q3 Can I transfer money from the main account to supplement social activities

A3 Definitely NOT money can only be transferred from social account to main account and NOT main account to social

Q4 If we arrange an outing, which is open to all U3A members, can we subsidise the cost of a coach from central funds?

A4 No - an outing is a social event and ‘central’ funds are your main account see Q3

Q5 Is there a model constitution that I could use to update our constitution which we have been using for some time

A5 It is good practice to look at your constitution before your AGM every year. There is a new model constitution (revised Feb 12 with notes ). New U3As are using this model and have found it suitable and appropiate for their needs. There is also a page of notes to be read with the model constitution.

Constitution Notes
Model Constitution

Q6 Can I pay a speaker at a monthly meeting, at their request a cheque payable to a Charity of their choice?

A6 A one-off donation does not contravene any rules on payments to charities. You are advised that the request is put in writing and it is registered in your accounts as 'payment in lieu of a fee'


Q7 Can I pay for a tutor/teacher?

A7 No. We do not have employers' liability insurance. The basis of the policy is that U3As do not have any employees. This type of cover is very different to public liability and is in fact compulsory for all employers so you must not get yourselves into a situation where you could be judged as employing people. If in doubt, please consult the National Office.
Does this policy provide cover for outside speakers invited to general meetings or on occasions to specific interest groups, whether paid or not?
Yes it does cover paid speakers at general or interest group meetings but it does not cover paid tutors. The reason for this, is that the U3A movement is founded on the principle of shared learning with the members both teaching and learning and it is not envisaged that people from outside will be paid to lead a U3A interest/activity group. If you are doing so on a short term basis, get a copy of their public liability cover note, which should be for a minimum of £2,000,000.

Q8 Can I pay a fee to a U3A member from another U3A to speak at our monthly meetings?

A8 The short answer is NO - Reference: The original principles of the U3A which includes the quote 'No salary, fee or financial reward shall be paid to any member of the university for teaching other members, counselling them or helping them in any way'. You may pay them for legitimate expenses

Frequently Asked Questions ( from NW Region newsletter 47 )

Why do we need a Constitution?
This is a management document which is required by Charity Law. It states your Charitable objectives and is a requirement of your membership of the Third Age Trust.
Yes, but we don’t have to follow it do we?
Oh yes, you do. This is a legal requirement. If you do anything which goes against your Constitution there is a serious risk that you will not be complying with Charity Law. Of particular importance are your Committee requirements and their terms of office. These are often overlooked because of the difficulties of finding willing volunteers.

Can we raise money for another Charity?
NO. Your Constitution says you can only donate to another Charity with the same objectives as your own. If you hold a fund raising event for another Charity this would go against your Constitution and therefore would contravene Charity Law. In this case, the event would not be covered by your U3A insurance and any problems would be the sole responsibility of the Trustees (Committee members).
Please remember that Trustees have COLLECTIVE responsibility for all decisions made.
If we have a collection for tea and coffee and find we have in excess of our requirements can we donate that excess to Charity?
NO. That money has been paid by the members for the benefit of your U3A and therefore cannot be used for another purpose.
Is there ANY way we can collect money for another Charity?
You can put a box on a table with the name of the Charity and tell members it is for voluntary donations. This money can then be taken to another Charity. At no time can it go into any of your accounts or be shown as a donation from ….U3A. It can be given as a donation from the members of…..U3A.
What about Guest speakers who ask for a payment to Charity in lieu of their fee
This is acceptable as you are paying the speaker and it is THEIR choice to donate the money. However you should record the payment as given in lieu of a speaker fee and ask the speaker to sign a receipt to that effect.
NB: The only time you cannot do this is if the speaker is a U3A member. Payments cannot be made to any U3A member other than reasonable expenses, regardless of which U3A they are visiting.

I forgot to pay my membership fees on time. Am I still a member?
Most groups allow a ‘period of grace’ for lapsed payments. This will be stated in your Constitution and is often 2-3 months. If you are within that period you are still a full member of your group, entitled to attend meetings and interest groups and you have full voting rights. Just make sure you know when this period ends because once the time runs out, your membership goes with it!