Job losses feared as Manchester student union deficit reaches half a million pounds


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The Independent Online

Manchester University students’ union has been forced to make drastic cut-backs after it was revealed that they have built up a deficit of over half a million pounds.

During a recent staff meeting, employees were informed that their jobs “may be at risk” and that staff redundancy could be an “eventuality” as union executives agreed £400,821 of budget cuts in light of the crippling deficit, still leaving £130,000 worth of savings to be made.

Other cost saving measures will include campaign budget and society grant budget cuts, reducing staff training and travel budgets, replacing student staff with permanent staff and the closure of the popular Biko’s North Cafe on North Campus.

In a statement posted on the union’s website, Grace Skelton, the general secretary, said that the situation was regrettable but necessary.

She said: “Following a review of the first two months of trading activity, the board have confirmed concerns over a deficit, and a restructure of the business has now become necessary due to financial pressures.

“During our meeting, staff were consulted with and asked to come forward with any suggestions or ideas that could help bridge the gap. Short of that, we may have to concede that job losses will be an eventuality and the union will be in the regrettable position of initially having to implement a voluntarily redundancy programme.

“This is a measure that has been considered very carefully and is something we may have to do in order to support the student union’s ongoing viability.”

It is not yet clear what caused the significant deficit, but an investigation is underway.

“The Trustee Board is in the process of investigating the causes of the financial situation however at this stage our priority is to deal with the ongoing consultation process,” said Skelton.

Tension amongst students is running high, with many claiming that the deficit has come as a direct consequence of the union’s spending in its own department.

William Marlow, studying second year pharmacy, said: “I think it's unfair that there will be reduced opportunities for students, both extracurricular and educational, when it is completely out of our control. Maybe if senior staff took voluntary pay cuts themselves they could save a few thousand pounds and some jobs in the process.”

Georgie Callé, an NUS delegate candidate studying at Manchester University, said: “It is appalling that this has been allowed to take place. When you take into account the union's extensive business assets such as the academy venues and the direct payment every student has to give the union each year, there appears to be no excuse for this situation. The union needs to take drastic steps to make sure that it doesn't happen again.”

The union could not be reached for comment