Correction to last GUCU Note on Finances – Concerning the Enterprise Hub
In GUCU’s Note on College Finances issued on March 10th 2021, we mistakenly said that there was no sign on the Enterprise Hub in current financial documents. We were unfortunately incorrect. We have found in the notes to one document, reference to a £1.2m spend on the Enterprise Hub in 2021-22 and £5.3m in 2022-23.
Previous documents show that the total spend on the Enterprise Hub is forecast to be £11.1m, with external grants covering only £2.3m of costs (so a net £8.8m spend). And this is before any running costs are projected. We are also aware that KPMG’s first recommendation in the IBR was to cancel the Enterprise Hub and non-critical capital expenditure of this nature, and also to sell fixed assets.
Senior Management have told departments as well as GUCU that they are looking for savings of £6m in staff costs: £3m in ‘portfolio’ (ie academic staff); £3m in professional services; and £3m in non-pay. These cuts will amount to c.120 jobs by 2022-23. We asked in our Finance Note why the speed of these cuts, why the speed to get to surplus, and why prioritise staff cuts at all? One of the answers might unfortunately be found in this ongoing financial commitment to the Enterprise Hub. This is a project that has no guaranteed financial benefits to the institution, and seems to answer no institutional or community need in a post-Covid world.
We are at a loss as to what senior management’s rationale is and why they are making these decisions. Why are they prioritising building projects over people, and why have they failed to dispose of assets in a timely and less risky manner? Why are they choosing the Enterprise Hub over retaining AL (Associate Lecturer) teaching budgets?
The banks required the initial IBR (Independent Business Review) by KPMG last August which made these recommendations to cancel the Hub and sell buildings. SMT independently commissioned (at great cost) the Portfolio Review and Professional Services Blueprint that went over and above what was ever required by the banks, and moved the priority away from cuts to capital expenditure and asset disposal, and instead in the direction of cuts to staff.
As more staff leave the institution under voluntary severance, short course tutors lose their work, as contracts are not renewed, AL budgets sliced, and as departments are being asked to make huge ‘savings’, we have to fight for an urgent change of priority, and a transformation in the system of governance that has allowed this to happen.