LIVEBLOG: CUSU Council
Catch all the action as CUSU tries to sort it’s shit out
Last night, it was revealed by board of trustees that CUSU had a serious overspending issue.
With the release of a draft budget for the coming year at 11:30 p.m. anyone who wasn’t either passed out or neck deep in VKs knew instantly that our student’s Union was in dire straits. With the draft budget proposed, CUSU would be set to overspend almost £76,000, forcing the organisation to dip into its charity reserves, set to dwindle to just under £93,555. The message is clear, CUSU needs to seriously trim the fat in budgetary terms. With the painful terms of austerity to be discussed, along with debate over another increasingly likely University bail out of CUSU, this looks set to be one of the most important Councils of recent times. Follow live updates below.
Summary so far
- CUSU’s massive shortfall in income stems from a failure to guarantee income from their external publications
- St James’ Publication House have failed to publish certain external publications for 2 years now, resulting in a ‘slippage’ funding
- This amounts to a near £200,000 loss in funding
- CUSU is looking to diversify it’s income stream with talk of an increase in college affiliation fees
- Amatey Doku provisionally rules out changes in staffing, but suggests a more basic website than the current NUS platform as a potential area of cuts
- Doubts expressed over desire to address key issues CUSU faces
There’s an air of dread and tension in the air as the council kicks off. Varsity’s Louis Ashworth is quick to point out an error in the minutes of a previous CUSU council, where TCS’s Will Tilbrook is listed as a Varsity editor.
CUSU Sabbs begin to tell us what they’ve been up to since the last council, unsurprisingly there’s no mention of the Sabb megalash in Prague this Easter. Maybe that’s where all the cash went…
A lot of people aren’t here to represent their Campaigns. Somewhat odd given the gravity of this council.
Amatey takes the stage, and he’s sounding pretty business. “We have been relying on external publications for some time.” Apparently the CUSU Guide to Excellence wasn’t in line with the charitable aims of CUSU.
CUSU’s careers guide brings in around £80,000 a year. But due to delays in contracts, the cash isn’t arriving as fast as it needs to. “The contracts were set to be renegotiated this year… we’ve been unable to reach an agreement before this budget”.
Amatey announces a move away from the Careers Guide as a funding source, with the hope that the University will temporarily fill the gap. “There are other savings we’ll have to make.” Here it comes…
Apparently CUSU hasn’t been paid for it’s by careers guide by St James Publishing House for 2 years… Maybe the ex-mobster in town can help them ‘collect’.
Amatey seems incredibly confused about the terms of the publishing contract as Connor MacDonald presses him on the issue. Why would CUSU enter into a contract where there’s no guarantee of any payment?
“This budget is by no means the end of the issues.” No shit, at this rate CUSU will need a bailout within 2 years. Someone ring the IMF…
There was an expectation that the funds provided for the Guide to Excellence would be recurrent. They weren’t, given that “We didn’t have an idea where we were going.”
The Guide for Excellence wasn’t removed on legal advice, but because it wasn’t student focused. Connor Macdonald asks who will be held accountable for this. We’d also like to know.
“At the risk of sounding like Theresa May, you don’t want there to be a running commentary on the negotiations you’re trying to have.” Amatey tells us that he won’t be signing a contract that doesn’t “reach a given threshold”. Is no deal better than a bad deal?
There are no publications in the pipeline, and CUSU don’t expect to receive any funds from St James Publications House. This is very bleak.
Talking directly to the Tab, Amatey says it’s just too risky to continue with the publications arrangement. However, from what we can tell, it does appear that they’re willing to lose an incredibly significant amount of money, largely because the original contract with the publishing house was poorly made and guaranteed no funding for CUSU.
Amatey gives several potential new sources of income and savings, including the fresher’s fair and more NUS extra cards. While Topshop discounts are popular, it’s hardly likely to fill the black hole in CUSU’s finances.
Discussing the new website, apparently it couldn’t have been made any cheaper. There’s a mention of last years TCS debacle. Those poor bastards shouldn’t have to be brought back there…
Asked whether there will be cuts to campaigns, he doesn’t rule out the possibility of cuts to the campaigns funding.
College NUS affiliations fees are brought up by Amatey. There’s talk of unfreezing of the affiliation fees paid by the college JCRs. I imagine the presidents won’t enjoy that one.
Amatey asks the room to have “I am asking you to have faith in us as we go through a tricky time.” It seems CUSU are pretty desperate to increase fees, but the presidents are split on whether the proposed 1% rise in fees would be acceptable. Darwin seem in favour of the rise, while Wolfson want to know exactly why a rise would occur.
Amatey tries to rule out cuts to staff, saying cuts will prevent CUSU from performing it’s function. There’s talk of CUSU having to lose some of it’s core services and no wonder, that deficit is massive. Amatey looks pretty stressed.
Amatey refuses to take any more questions on fees or the budget, while there appeared to be more, the Council moves onto the discussion of expanding the Trustee Board size.
The motion passes, but not before Sam Longton can submit a friendly amendment, his modus operandi.
The next motion is put forward by the LGBT+ Campaign, seeking constitutional change within itself.