GENERAL COUNCIL REPORT
This chapter reports on the resources employed to enable the TUC to meet the objectives and fulfil the work set out in the previous chapters. The full accounts are set out an appendix 3 of the report, but this chapter shows the overall picture. It also reports on the funding of the education services and the use of the development fund, which was established in 1995 to allow the TUC to undertake new work.
This chapter also reports on the developing use of Congress Centre and changes to the Library and Information Services. Finally it reports that the TUC has achieved Investors in People standard. It is hoped that the Standard will be presented to the TUC during Congress by the Secretary of State for Education and Employment .
13.1 TUC finances
It was reported to last year's Congress that a thorough internal review of the TUC's work had been undertaken looking at maximising new income streams as well as reducing costs, including a further round of staff reductions. Efforts are continuing to be made to boost income from the Congress Centre conference and meeting room services in Congress House and a new conference room suite is being planned (see below) to increase revenues. The initial business plan prepared for the National Education Centre is being implemented and updated in the light of experience. The staff reduction programme has now been completed and the effect of the reorganisation has been to save approximately £600,000 per annum in ongoing staff costs.
TUC/Unity First Credit Card
Changes to the operation of the TUC/ Unity First Credit Card have been introduced since last Congress. The proposal to introduce a royalties scheme with income passing to the TUC Educational Trust to help finance courses which had a direct benefit to unions generally won the support of unions. However, several unions raised technical points about the proposal and, after further discussions with these unions, it was proposed to operate a royalties scheme on the following basis:
union's share of the royalty payment would be paid on a per capita basis;
Affiliation fee rate
As agreed at the 1995 Congress, the TUC's affiliation fee continues to be based on a formula using the weighted average of the main contribution rate in each affiliated union. Based on information supplied by affiliates at 30 September each year, a weighted average is calculated of all weekly contribution rates as at 1 January in the following year. This calculation produced a weighted average of 169 pence for 1997, and applying the formula for setting the TUC fee at 95 per cent of this figure produced an affiliation fee rate of 161 pence. However, in the light of continuing financial pressures on affiliates, the General Council agreed that the 1997 affiliation fee should be set at 158 pence.
Funding the TUC's Education Service
As reported at last year's Congress, a revised method of funding the TUC's Education Service was introduced in 1996 to maximise the tax advantages available to the Movement as a whole. The TUC's Educational Trust now meets all the course charges from colleges providing TUC courses in the regions, which totalled some £829,000 during the year. This increased expenditure was funded by taxable payments from the TUC, allowing the Educational Trust to reclaim from the Inland Revenue the tax which the TUC had suffered. The effect of this transfer of costs to the Trust from the TUC can be seen in the TUC's accounts (appendix 3).
The Development Fund was established to promote the General Council's new work and initiatives. As agreed at the 1995 Congress, 10 per cent of each year's affiliation fee income is allocated to the Fund to finance such work; in 1996, this raised £1.025m and in 1997 it is budgeted to raise £1.057m. In 1996, the income was used to fund a number of projects, under the following general headings:
The Annual Statement of Accounts and Balance Sheet as at 31 December 1996 are set out in Appendix 3.
Overall, the TUC had a surplus in 1996 of £293,000 against a deficit in 1995 of £1.3m. The TUC's finances benefited from the decision, discussed above, to transfer to the TUC Educational Trust the responsibility of meeting the charges from colleges providing TUC courses, which reduced the costs to the TUC by £829,000 during the year. As explained above these costs are now met by the TUC Educational Trust.
The TUC's net assets increased by just over £50,000 during 1996, mainly because of a loan of £500,000, which was used to help fund refurbishment work at Congress House totalling £617,000. The amount owed to the TUC by the TUC Educational Trust also increased by £1.1m, due to the educational expenditure undertaken by the TUC on the Trust's behalf. The Trust repaid £475,000 of this amount in January this year.
13.2Congress House - Congress Centre
As in previous years Congress Centre was used by a number of organisations for their annual meetings, including Equity and the National Eczema Society. The Marble Hall continued to host university and college final year exhibitions and additional ones this year were held by the Quilters Guild, Stitch Design and Marshalls Communications.
Entries in the London Convention Bureau Directory, Yellow Pages and, for the first time, an advertisement in the Thomson Directory continue to provide new business enquiries. This year some of the new clients gained were Secretarial Development Network, McKenna Breen, Hugill Chartered Accountants and Mind Fields Ltd
In June, the General Council approved a programme of capital projects to improve the fabric and infrastructure of Congress House. These will be carried out over the next four years. The main works to be undertaken include: the provision of additional disabled toilet and works to the kitchen which completes the recent refurbishment of the main service and rain water pipes and toilets; to provide a new glass roof to the main Conference Hall; to create a new multi-media conference facility on 2nd floor south Congress House including video-conferencing, air conditioning, window blinds and secondary glazing; to generally upgrade the facilities provided in the Conference Hall, including provision of flexible lighting, blinds, multi-lingual booths and audio-visual facilities. There will be improvements to the foyer of the Conference Hall and Restaurant lighting and decor. The exterior of Congress House will also be enhanced by the appropriate use of external lighting; a new paved area to the frontage; an illuminated water pool to improve the external appearance of Congress House. Other planned works include the provision of safety cradles to the exterior of the building to facilitate external maintenance and other work and the upgrading of internal data cabling system for the computer systems. Work on the new conference facility will begin over the summer.
It has been estimated that the total cost of these capital projects will be around £3m and it is proposed to finance the work by a loan arrangement over a ten year period. It is anticipated that the loan will be based on the Libor inter-bank rate. All of the financing of the repayments will come from within the TUC's own resources and will not require a subvention to the affiliation fee. This will be done by using three different funding sources: the existing capital allocation made by the TUC each year of around £250,000 to pay for major works; additional rental income from the building secured from letting space to UNISON Greater London Region; and the anticipated income stream from the new conference facilities and from the enhanced income achievable from the upgraded conference hall facilities.
13.3 TUC Library- Information Service
As reported to the 1996 Congress, it was decided to transfer the historical element of the TUC Library Collection to the University of North London. The move took place at the end of September 1996, and the TUC Librarian, Ms Christine Coates, transferred with the collection on secondment in order to establish a historical service at the new site. The Library was formally reopened in its new home on 12 May at a reception
addressed by the General Secretary and by the University Vice-Chancellor.
The University's TUC Library Development Group is hoping to attract funding to develop the services, including the possibilities of making the catalogue more accessible through the World Wide Web, and creating an archives centre which would house the TUC Library and attract other collections. The University is keen to extend its links with the trade union Movement and the arrival of the TUC collection has acted as a catalyst in many ways. It looks forward to an expansion in the courses offered to union members and in future information and research partnerships.
A new TUC Information Service was set up in early 1996 and the four permanent staff have been in post for just over a year. The service carries out research for staff of the TUC and affiliated unions, and assists with enquiries from the public. It has built up a comprehensive collection of electronic information tools such as CD ROMs, access to online databases and the world wide web. These and printed publications such as journals, books and reports are used to answer a wide variety of enquiries; the Information Service also continues to act as a European Relay and receives documents from the European Union.
Most staff in the TUC have now been trained by the Information Service to access the world wide web, using sites such as those published by the UK government and labour relations organisations. The Service also plays an active role in developing the TUC public web site, and is planning the introduction of a TUC "intranet" (internal web site) in the coming year. Other projects currently being developed include the introduction of a library database of materials held by the TUC and a CD ROM network, to be accessed from staff PCS.
13.4 Investors in People
In June 1997 the TUC was awarded Investors in People by a National Recognition Panel from Investors in People UK, following the assessment undertaken by a National Assessor in May. This achievement recognises that the TUC has met a national Standard for excellence in the training and development of its staff.
The TUC made an initial commitment to achieve Investors in People in September 1994. This followed the relaunch of the TUC part of whose aim was to overhaul the internal communications and training and development processes in order to achieve the objectives set out for the TUC in its mission statement. The TUC had not previously established any consistent processes for communication with staff or any systematic means to identify and meet staff training needs. Investors in People provided a benchmark for the organisation to work towards. Staff identified with the award and it demonstrated externally our commitment.
Over the period from commitment to assessment this year, the TUC has introduced organisational planning mechanisms generated from Congress each year with organisational and departmental objectives. These are reflected in individual development reviews with staff which were introduced to set objectives and determine
training and development needs. Training needs arising from these reviews are met through an annual training plan and evaluated at individual, departmental and organisational level. A number of internal communications mechanisms have been introduced to contribute to these processes including an annual staff survey to review progress. A series of training programmes to increase the level of skills of all TUC staff have included public speaking and media skills, project management, IT training and also a management development programme for all TUC staff who manage people. All of these mechanisms have been introduced with active staff involvement and co- operation.
A preliminary assessment was held at the end of 1996 to gauge progress towards achieving the standard. This confirmed that, providing action was taken in several key areas, the TUC would by mid 1997 be ready for formal assessment. As a national institution with links with Investors in People UK it was decided that the TUC's assessment should be conducted by Senior National Assessor form IiPUK instead of the local TEC.
The IiP standard is awarded for three years when organisations are then reassessed. So that the TUC and its staff maintain the standard, a programme of work is already being devised to ensure that the TUC continues to improve.
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