Union Council, the representative body of the Union of UEA Students (UUEAS), voted overwhelmingly to increase its power to amend the union’s budget. The proposal would give councillors more opportunity to feed into the budget process, give them more time to consult the wider student body and lays out other new budget processes.
The proposers of the amendment argue that the current budget process is not clear or transparent and that it needs to be improved, and that councillors should be given more time to consult their constituents on how the union spends money.
Previously, Union Council has only had powers to approve or reject the entire budget, but as a result of this amendment individual councillors will now be able to propose their own changes to individual sections of the budget.
Joe Levell, UUEAS Finance Officer and proposer of the amendment, said: “The policy makes it much clearer for Union Council to monitor and keep track of the Union’s finances and will provide the opportunity for valuable input into how the Union spends its money.”
Sam Alston, a union councillor and co-writer of the amendment, said: “The passage of the budget is one of the most important things that Union Council does; this motion makes it easier to review the budget. The previous structure made it very difficult for the Council to hold the officers to account and made it even harder for groups to demand changes to the budget. I think that the amendment will improve accountability, strengthen Union Council and potentially create the walls to ensure oversight. However, this motion creates walls and walls are only as strong as those who defend them.”
The Union’s annual spending on its charitable objectives is approximately £1,800,000. The budget is drawn up by the Management Committee (composed of the four full-time officers) and the Trustee Board (composed of the full-time officers, two part-time officers, four elected students and four external trustees). It must be confirmed by Union Council, composed of 200 elected members who represent clubs, societies and courses.