Kerry explained that there is currently over £55,000 of student groups debt and SUSU needs the money back to give opportunities to other student groups, but at the same time recovering the money is difficult, particularly because it could have been owed for several years, under a different committee. There are already plans to implement an improved funding system for internal costs (e.g. tech costs) and a better invoicing system. The Bank of SUSU project is also in development which will provide a better way for student groups to control their own money in the future, but the issues at the moment still need to be resolved.
Kerry had met with Ben Franklin and agreed that:
- If the debt is younger than six months then it won’t be chased because it is reasonable to expect it to be paid back. There is also the possibility of writing off older debts, to be cleared by Trustee Board as a financial matter.
- Categorise the remaining debt into different groups according to how much is owed, with different expectations for each group.
It had also been agreed that Zone Committees should not let knowledge of debts affect funding decisions for this funding round.
Sam Guthrie asked whether there would be guidance provided on how student groups could go about getting other sources of money. Kerry said that there are ‘how to’ guides on getting money (e.g. fundraising etc.).
Michael asked what would happen if a society had to close down and then someone else wanted to start up again? It was explained that it was a difficult situation that would be dealt with on a case by case basis. Michael also said that it would be useful to have the debt record available in the future to take into account in funding meetings.
Michael also asked about payment plans. Kerry said that it will vary on the Society’s situation and that it’s not fair to roll out a broad expectation because it wouldn’t be possible for some groups.
Sammi said that some societies might not even be aware of their debt. Trini and Michael explained that it’s now all available on Groups Hub.
Michael asked how future debt can be prevented. Trini said that all the information is becoming more available on Groups Hub and that invoices have become easier to understand. Kerry said that the Bank of SUSU will be a big part of solving the issues.
Rebecca Lake said that many societies don’t even know about the pigeon holes in Building 40 and have found invoices to previous committees, so an easier solution for invoices would be good.
Sammi said that sometimes old committees can’t be contacted after they have left, leaving the new committee with debt, which is unfair on the new committee who have tried to resolve the issue. Trini said that in that case they’d make it clear to the new committee that there is a lot of support available and making it clear that SUSU doesn’t blame them. Kerry added that in an ideal world, that debt could just be written off and the proposal has made it as fair as possible and also as a charity, SUSU cannot make a loss and the £55,000 would have to come from another budget.
Sammi said that societies could be encouraged to do a joint fundraiser by zone, helping reduce the overall debt, instead of lots of smaller fundraisers competing with each other. Michael said a similar thing happens with some groups and could be organised on social media through zone pages.
Sam Guthrie asked about whether there was an issue with charity societies holding fundraisers. It was explained that there weren’t any charities that currently had any debt and that there shouldn’t be any issue if it was made clear that the money was going towards writing off their debt.
Michael said that better handovers need to happen. Sammi said that RockSoc handover guidelines as well as contact details of the old Committee. It was also explained that there was a ‘how to’ on handover documents. Trini said that it would be a good idea to produce a bare minimum template for handovers which is mandatory to upload to Groups Hub. Charlotte added that the template should be quite vague because e.g. Southampton Hub have to comply with template from the larger charity. Guy said that it would be a good idea to have a wiki for each group to act a handbook that can be added to throughout the year and passed on to the new Committee.
Rebecca brought up the idea of a representative from each zone going to as many as society AGMs as possible. Trini said that there had been a discussion at Union Council and had decided that societies have to put their AGM dates on groups hub and then it’s up to the Student Groups Reps to make sure that a date is set by their societies.