Conference room on a Friday evening. RJ has provided cake and donuts, and there’s a bottle of rum on the table in case the meeting goes on too long.
I tried to make a joke and no-one liked it.
Present: RJ (FCO), DB, JC (Vice-President), EM (President), KM, SR, AB
RJ: You guys are all freshers, that’s good. You have a lot of power. AB is DB’s Dad.
Explanations & Expectations
RJ: I’m in charge. JC minutes. EM contributes sometimes. JC used to be treasurer so he knows loads. We’ll come to history later.
RJ: There are 2 parts of your job. Us as a committee, and individual jobs. At this meeting we’ll approve budgets, that’s us a committee, and you’ll have things to do by next meeting. There are no set roles.
RJ: This is the first year of having an FCO. The last few years we haven’t got accounts in on time, so now my role exists. Hatfield JCR overspent by £44k last year, Hild Bede messed up recently, so these things happen. As we’re an independent charity we have no support from uni if we mess up. 18/19 accounts are going in now. At the end of the year we’ll need to sort 19/20 accounts. Our financial year runs until 31st July. Fi comm used to have 9 members, but it’s now just 4. They also met infrequently. We felt it would be more efficient with 4 people, but this means I expect everyone to contribute. Everything you do will be useful and helpful.
RJ: We’ll meet in the week before a JCR meeting if there’s a budget to be passed. We can veto any finance related motion. We need 2/3 majority to do that. In 3rd term we’ll be busier, but only post exams. That’s because we’ll need to approve every S&S budget before the budget meeting. We’ll also need to write the overall budget for 20/21.
RJ: You’re expected to attend meetings or send apologies. Sometimes we’ll do “like if you approve” on the facebook group, please don’t just ignore it. Some tasks are optional, please say yes or no rather than ignoring. I’m very flexible. Tell me if you’re struggling or want to do more. This is my job.
RJ: My background isn’t in finance, so some of you might have better skills than me in certain areas. Sometimes I ask JC for help because he’s good with numbers. Tell me if you’re unsure of anything I’ve said.
*RJ’s joke is voted better than mine*
RJ: We can approve expenditure up to £300. Anything larger has to go to a JCR meeting. Exec can approve up to £100. Full duties can be found in standing orders. “New or amended budgets that are not submitted for the budget meeting and that are less than £500 can be approved by finance comm” quote from Standing Orders. So if someone requests less than £500 we can pass it without going to a JCR meeting. So that’s what will happen today.
Pre-reading & How the JCR operates
RJ: Each year we get ~£75k. Most of it is from levies which is paid by students. We expect 95% of people to pay it. The rest comes from the University and depends on size. Some JCRs operate differently. That money is split into various headings. Sports and socs are subsidised, we use a 50:50 system where the JCR matches income that the society raises. Some clubs are on a rolling payment system, where they pay per session instead of subs. If subs are over £40 per person, they get more money. For Michaelmas ball and Feast, all the money comes from tickets. We don’t aim to make money on them. Summer Ball and Cuth’s Day are subsidised by the JCR. This is because more people go to these. Some income is generated by renting out facilities. We don’t aim to make money, only to benefit students. Recently we’ve generated a reserve which needs to be spent.
RJ: This is different to how most societies operate. Expected costs are in Michaelmas term. They plan to raise a lot of money from ticket sales, which will pay for expenses. The rest will go to charity. They’re allowed to generate a negative reserve for this expenditure before the ticket sales.
EM: I met with FS pres today. They also have a just giving page. I think that’s fine if it goes straight to the charity their donating to, but can’t be a personal account. So they may raise more than it appears from JCR accounts.
*JC declares conflict of interest*
RJ: Categories of expenditure have been marked as consumable. Plan to raise more than they spend, and they’re requesting funding. It’s precedent to not spend JCR money on consumables, so that’s why they’re raising full costs. They’re raising more than is needed, asking for the extra to be matched, and this will go into a reserve to be used on equipment in future.
RJ: I have no concerns. What happens if we they raise less than they expect?
JC: They get less JCR funding.
RJ: If you raise more than £37 surplus?
JC: Still only £37 from JCR.
SR: If they earn less than they spend, where does money come from?
RJ: They would go into a negative reserve, but need to raise that money themselves in future.
RJ: Don’t be afraid to speak up if you disagree
RJ: They have -£613. Bodcon has been going for a while, but last year they planned to have classes in the dining hall. They were then told they couldn’t, so they had to book a hall, and they still didn’t charge money. So they lost a lot of money. It could take a long time to pay it back. At last year’s budget meeting this was discussed. “We plan to pay back money to the JCR…but it will take a long time.” I’ve advised them to write a budget that will break even, so we can discuss what to do. Costs aren’t ridiculously high, 10 people per class paying £1 will allow them to break even.
DB: How does membership work?
RJ: They’re on a rolling payment system, so you pay per class.
KM: So 180 members is equivalent to 18 people at 10 classes.
RJ: This doesn’t solve deficit problem. One option is to erase their debt. Another is to ignore the debt and hope they break even again. As a society they’re struggling, only recently elected a president for this year. I worry that increasing subs will cause them to lose membership.
JC: I don’t think we should delay debt for future
RJ: It’s not a problem for us to erase it.
DB: How did they get so far in debt?
RJ: Not certain, possibly they were already in debt.
DB: They don’t seem very responsible.
EM: Have they spoken to college about this?
RJ: I can suggest it as an option. At the moment it seems ambitious to cover their costs. But I want to give them a chance. So we don’t want to ignore it for this year.
EM: Realistically they’re never going to pay this back. So either we wipe it now or it gets wiped when they crumble. But we can stop them making further losses.
RJ: Agreed, we definitely have to monitor their finances this year.
EM: Why don’t we request higher subs?
RJ: We’ll monitor first two weeks, and ask them to raise it if it seems necessary.
DB: Is there a precedent of wiping debt?
RJ: Possibly. I’m thinking of wiping it.
SR: What’s the harm in having it sit there?
RJ: We could say we’ll only wipe it at year end if they don’t make a further loss.
EM: It’s a small society, and small societies often fizzle out when key members graduate. There’s a high chance they’d fizzle out before paying it off.
SR: Do small societies have a bigger allowance for going over budget?
RJ: No, it’s 5% for everyone. At other colleges, one of their criteria for giving money is that they wouldn’t function without it.
*Put to vote. Options are wipe their debt now or keep a close eye and agree to wipe it at end of year or not depending on this year’s finances.*
*2/3 majority for wiping now*
RJ: We don’t have a music committee budget. Last year we created a music rep and a music committee. Seems reasonable for them to have a budget. I propose £300 because we can approve that, but then go to JCR with £500. To be used to promote music and do nice things. On the overall budget we have a GKL fund, that’s from an alumnus who donates money to spent on musical instruments and equipment. This budget wouldn’t overlap with that.
EM: They want to have a music showcase. It could go towards organising that. Cuth’s people wouldn’t expect to be paid for it.
RJ: Likely to be admin/travel etc.
EM: I think £300 is fine unless they ask for more.
RJ: Overall budget has recently been modified slightly so we make less money. £300 is unlikely to make a difference.
Formals & Social Comm Budget
RJ: Currently not a formals budget, but there is a social comm small events budget of £500. Last year’s social chair didn’t know. I’m proposing using this for formals. I’m not sure how small events budget will be spent.
EM: For example could it be a St Patrick’s day event? Or Eurovision?
EM: In that case I think they should be split. Formals will always happen, but it’s up to social comm whether or not they want to do events. IF they’re split they don’t need to decide what to prioritise when one is definitely happening.
KM: How often do they do small events?
RJ: This year there will be a formals manager who can handle that budget. If we’re going to split it, do we want to split current £500 or add more?
EM: I think split it.
*Agreement to split it, so £250 for social comm activities and £250 for formals.*
RJ: Participation fund is a thing we offer for people who can’t afford to join sports and societies
EM: We have rules for how it’s distributed, we need to know how much people need and why. President, FCO, S&S chair and chair look at them together and work out how to split it up. We’ll prioritise Cuth’s S&S. But we can also support Uni-wide societies if we have enough money. We want there to be more money because last year there was £600, and it was all used.
DB: What would allow someone to have that money?
EM: Someone really wanted to do something but couldn’t afford subs or necessary equipment. It’s not means tested, and partly trust based.
RJ: In general, people only ask if they need it.
RJ: It would be surprising if someone applied who didn’t need it, but it is open to abuse.
EM: They need to explain why they need the money.
RJ: So we’re asking to increase it by £300 to £900 for this year.
RJ: There are 4 things that need to be done. How convenient. Not limited to these 4, if anyone wants to do anything else you can suggest it. 4 things are: bookkeeping, management accounts, spreadsheets and policy.
RJ: Bookkeeping is keeping up with paperwork. There’s a meeting with auditors on 5th Nov so would like to be up to date by then. Fairly straightforward, but cool. Also option to meet with auditors.
RJ: Management accounts are a summary of what we’ve spent so far versus what we expected to spend, so that trustees can monitor progress.
RJ: Spreadsheets need to be well formatted, especially the ones for sports and socs.
RJ: There are a few holes in our policy, and it has been reviewed for a while. Many financial procedures are new this year. So scope for change.
AB: What’s an example of policy?
SR: Currently societies have a 5% allowance for going over budget, but this could be very limiting for small societies.
Action: AB to work on policy
Action: KM to do bookkeeping
Action: DB to do spreadsheets
Action: SR to do management accounts
RJ: For all of these, we can meet as a small group to discuss it.
RJ: Let’s combine next meeting and social. Next meeting will be 1st Dec, hopefully people will have done jobs by then. Then social will be straight after. There’ll be organised fun.
RJ: AB will bring cake next time.
EM: We have a Cuth’s wardrobe with donated formal wear that people can rent out. We’ve already had to buy things for it, such as a clothes rail. Clothes rail isn’t tall enough so we’ll also need some boxes. We are planning to merge with John’s, in which case they’ll pay us half. I’d like to create a position for someone to manage it. Can I write a budget for it?
RJ: You wouldn’t need to write a budget, just ask for funding.
EM: Currently we don’t make any money, we just ask for money to cover cleaning. There might be hidden costs. We don’t have long before ball so let’s approve something now. £200.
EM: When we merge with John’s I’d suggest they match that.