#DM16:Road to Recovery
John Barsby - © paul herrmann
17 April 2016
From having just enough money to last a few weeks, the NUJ’s fortunes have been turned around, John Barsby, the union’s honorary general treasurer told conference.
In the financial year ending September 2015, the union had net current assets of £2m. Figures for the first two months of the year showed an actual surplus of £120,000 compared to a budget expectation of £21,000. Results from the first four months have brought our net assets to almost £2.4m.
He said: “A significant proportion of the figures resulted from sensible financial controls and the collective effort of budget holders to spend money wisely.”
The union reduced its admin bill and professional training, which amounted to £80,000, is now cost neutral. This has allowed the union to invest in training, including providing the Get Started as a Freelance and Pitch and Deal courses for freelances, plus free digital skills training for those who have recently lost their jobs, he said.
But, he said, we can’t be complacent. Members are being lost because of redundancies, however new people are joining at a rate of around 200 every month.
With finances in a healthier state, conference voted for a motion which proposed that one per cent of contributions should be split between the NUJ’s charities, the George Viner Memorial Foundation, which awards bursaries to BAME students, and NUJ Extra, the union’s hardship fund.
John Barsby said: “In the past when we have built up finances we seemed to be faced with a crisis or a desire to spend whatever we saved. This time your national executive agreed overwhelmingly that we should secure the gains we made.”
This has included the decision to invest in the hard assets of the union – the refurbishment of Headland House. This will mean visitors can now enter the lift without fear and that significant value will be added to the building. The work will provide more space to be rented out to tenants and spaces for meeting rooms and places to hold events.
John Barsby said: “We have come back from a near disaster that could have seen an end to our independence, indeed the end of the NUJ. We will continue to build on the financial stability we have achieved to make sure we have the funds to be strong, fighting union defending and protecting our members now and for the years to come.”