CUSU reveals smaller than expected loss in 2016-17 budget

Caithlin Ng 31 May 2018

CUSU has released its 2016-17 audit, with its accounts confirming a much smaller than envisioned loss of £6,836. President Daisy Eyre described this figure as “very encouraging for a year in which we faced significant financial difficulties”.

According to an article on the CUSU website, the reasons for the smaller loss include the University repaying the student union for a staffing underspend from the 2015-16 financial year, some staff roles not being filled this year, and one final deal with publishing company St James’ House (SJH) which increased their income.

CUSU’s contract with SJH ended in 2016-17, during which Amatey Doku was President. The student union cited the publishing company’s unreliability and the poor quality of the published products as reasons for severe delays in CUSU receiving revenue, and revealed in the first CUSU Council of Easter Term 2017 that it was then facing a deficit of £75,888.

The CUSU team at the time were particularly worried about the loss of SJH as a source of income, given that the publishing company had provided the student union with £140,000 a year, at its peak. The article on CUSU’s website notes that the Union’s funding situation “has been uncertain for some time”, often projecting different expected losses at different times. It estimated a loss of £116,000 in April last year, for instance, but then revised it to £35,000 later that year.

However, the CUSU Trustee Board “was very conscious” of the implications of terminating the contract with SJH, and are now “pleased” that the confirmed loss was ultimately smaller than expected.

Aside from the smaller loss, the Union’s audit also highlighted increased membership engagement as one of the year’s key successes, claiming that the proportion of students who felt confident of enacting change through CUSU rose by 69% between 2016 and 2017.

The audit also states that the 2017-18 year has been “preoccupied with resolving the Union’s finance”, and developing a new strategic plan. The Union’s trustees had resolved at the end of 2016-17 to reduce CUSU’s reliance on variable and political funding avenues for its core costs, and now considers this as having been realised in 2017-18.

While the student union have budgeted “a small loss” for 2018-19, and to eventually achieve a break even budget in the next couple of years, it also “looks forward” to entering 2018-19 with increased funding from the University, a single funding model from the Colleges in place of affiliation fees, and new promotions partners to contribute to charitable efforts.