CUSU’s report shows that they overspent by £4,498 as spending on staff increased Simon Lock

CUSU ran a deficit for the first time in four years during the last financial year, according to the student union’s latest published accounts.

The accounts, which detail income and expenditure for the financial year ending on 30th June 2015, show that CUSU overspent by £4,498. The figures mean that at the end of June last year CUSU were £32,454 worse off than they were at the end of the 2013/14 financial year, when they recorded a surplus of £27,956.

Overall expenditure rose by 13 per cent in 2014/15, hitting £757,009. One of the areas to see the biggest increases in spending was staffing, with the cost of CUSU’s 16 members of staff – which includes sabbatical officers – amounting to £49,894 more than in 2013/14.

Contrary to what the increase might suggest, the number of staff employed by CUSU has only gone up by one in the last year. The substantial increase in staff ing costs reflects the emphasis CUSU has placed on “pay and reward” as an area for development.

In the report accompanying the latest accounts, CUSU General Manager Mark McCormack writes: “the organisation was successful in its grant bid to the university to raise non-manager pay across staff and elected officers, and improve the training and development opportunities available to team members.”

The report notes that the University of Cambridge upped its contribution towards salary costs in 2014/15 by almost 26 per cent, from £66,350 to £83,547.

The last time CUSU’s end-of-year reports recorded a deficit was 2011, when the student union was over £40,000 in the red. In the 2011 report, the then CUSU Co-ordinator, Harriet Flower, put the huge deficit down to, among other things, “a dramatic reduction in revenue generated by advertising sales for [The Cambridge Student]”. Indeed, revenue generated by TCS fell by nearly £14,000 between 2009/10 and 2010/11, and has continued to fall year after year ever since, with the exception of 2012/13.

The latest accounts show the income generated by TCS – which had its print run defunded by CUSU this term – slip yet again, to £32,672, meaning that over the past five years the paper’s revenues have diminished by 38 per cent. However, CUSU’s overall income substantially increased during the last financial year, totalling £752,511 – over £55,000 more than the amount raised in the previous year.

The report also fuels uncertainty about the balance of power within CUSU and whether the elected sabbatical officers are really the ones who are in control. Unusually, CUSU’s annual Trustees’ Report, which accompanies the income and spending figures, is signed off not by one of the union’s trustees, but instead by CUSU’s General Manager, Mark McCormack.

This is despite the “Report of the Trustees” – a section of the report distinct from and preceding the Trustees’ Annual Report, saying: “The trustees are responsible for preparing the Trustees’ Report”. In previous years, the Trustees’ Report, or the Co-Ordinator’s Report that preceded it, has always been signed off by a trustee of the student union.