Board of Trustees Update - November 2020

President Kate Roberts updates you on the key topics of discussion from the latest Board of Trustees meeting.

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Although you may not be aware, the Students’ Union is actually a charity, with the same governance processes required as other charities in the country.

This means that we have a Board of Trustees, and that we have to comply with the Charity Code, among other things. As there is often so much going on under our roof, we know it can be a bit confusing to understand where decisions are being made, which is why we aim to update you on the discussions held at our Board of Trustees.

Essentially, the Board of Trustees are legally responsible for the organisation and help set the path for the organisation moving forwards within our strategy. The Board is chaired by the President of the Students’ Union and its membership includes the other three Sabbatical Officers, Student Trustees and External Trustees, so that we can receive guidance and expertise from other areas.

Due to the nature of this unusual academic year, we have held more regular Board of Trustees meetings, to ensure that all Trustees are informed and able to make important decisions. Last week, I chaired our most recent Board of Trustees meeting and I am pleased to share the key topics of discussion with you.

Update from the Officers

At every Board of Trustees meeting, the Officers provide an update on the work we have been undertaking. The recent meeting included updates on; Black History Month, commencement of the Housing Policy Inquiry, release of the Digital Education Experience 2.0 Insight Report, implementation of updated extensions policy for Term 2, attendance at College Council Strategy Day, engagement with GP Assurance Group, Mental Health Training for student groups, delivery of ‘This Girl Can’ campaign activity, and student group ratifications.

Update from the CEOs

At each meeting, an update is also provided by the joint CEOs. The recent meeting included updates on; the RHSU Organisational Plan, RHSU furlough arrangements, Lockdown 2.0 arrangements, Asymptomatic Testing Station working group (partnership activity with the University and Sabbatical Officers), and sector-wide engagement.

RHSU Operational Plan

The Board of Trustees received a paper highlighting the financial challenges facing the Students’ Union for the remainder of the 2020/21 academic year. These challenges are driven by the pandemic and the national approach to mitigating the impact of Covid-19. The recommendations put forward were approved by the Board.

Quarterly Management Accounts

The Board of Trustees received a paper detailing the financial performance of the Students’ Union over the first quarter of the 2020/21 academic year. For 2020/21 the Freshers period, and Term One more broadly, has been considerably different due to the continued effects of Covid-19.

RHSU’s financial performance is as expected, with proposed savings reflected in the paper taken to the Board of Trustees. The Trading Services branch of the organisation, which includes the Union Venue, continues to be adversely affected by the pandemic in terms of revenue generation and is tracking behind its budgeted position. The Board of Trustees approved these quarterly accounts.

VAT exemption update

Food provided to students in support of their education is exempt from the majority of VAT. Every year we need to reflect on how much of our food is classed as exempt due to the sale of food at Tommy’s Kitchen to University staff and due to members of the public visiting The Packhorse. The Board of Trustees received an update on the assessment of the ratio, the guidance set out has been carefully considered reflecting on the changes made to the sale of food at The Packhorse (the introduction of Uber Eats). Further to this, the decision has been made to cease the application of the exemption for The Packhorse.

Annual Report 2019/2020

The Board of Trustees received the draft Annual Impact Report for approval. The report is reviewed each year and sets out the progress of the organisation against our strategic plan. The completed document will be submitted to the Charity Commission.

I hope that you found this of interest and that it went some way towards explaining how the Union works. As always, if you have any questions or queries about any of the information above, or would like to find out how you can get involved in the Union’s decision-making processes, feel free to email me.