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Preliminary RA expense figures reveal £5,000 black hole

Unaccounted spending by accommodation

Preliminary figures of the Resident Association’s expenses for the previous academic year have been made available to the public this week, highlighting more than £5,000 of unaccounted transactions across the board.

The figures demonstrate the first glimpses of the improvements made since the new financial system implemented by Ed Sparkes, the former Vice President of Housing and Community, that came into place at the beginning of 2010.

The RA system operated at the University of Birmingham is somewhat unique within the upper echelons of the British higher education establishment, and represents a team of elected students who work on a voluntary basis to ensure that ‘everyone is as safe, settled and as happy as possible.’

Initial findings highlight that two-thirds of the overall unaccounted transactions fall under the headings of only three halls: Maple Bank, Hunter Court, and Jarratt Hall. The latter provides the highest figure that stands at £1,432.

Almost half of their annual spending goes towards balls for the individual halls; the rest falls into a wide range of categories that include meals, alcohol, promoter ticket sales and photocopying.

However, there is a significant amount of scepticism towards the early results.

Chris Bates, RA for Pritchatts Park noted that the ‘figures may appear shocking at first, but the RA scheme are working closely with the Guild of Students andRedbrick to ensure that any mistakes made in the past are learnt from and the scheme develops into one of true transparency and accountability as a result of this investigation.’

Since the reforms, RAs now have a series of checks and balances with regard to their expenses for each event to keep track of the money that the RAs use.

For a single event, three of the required forms that either the Treasurer or the President must sign-off a comprehensive breakdown of expected and actual expenditure, benefits to members, money for an emergency fund, and checks to ensure the transfer of money are all required.

If an event needs to be subsidised, or if the money hasn’t been transferred to the relevant recipients, a thorough justification is required.

Tom Petrie, President of Elgar Court noted that: ‘The new system brought in under Ed Sparkes and Jonny Kirby leaves no room for financial inaccuracy. It makes it virtually impossible for unaccounted transactions.’

A full breakdown of the expenses figures is due early next week that will provide depth and clarity to the synoptic results. Pick up next week’s Redbrick, for a full analysis of the detailed balance sheets.


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