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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Austerity: preparing for a new era in College finances

Statement from the Honorary Treasurer, Professor George Ikkos

Professor George IkkosIn recent years the College has grown at an impressive rate. 10 years ago the annual turnover was about £8M, in 2009 it was £15M!

Partly this is because of growth in membership numbers; now 15,000 in total. However membership subscription accounts for less than one third of total income. Other sources include the College Centre for Quality Improvement, the College Education and Training Centre, Examinations, Conferences, Grants etc.

The College has been careful with its resources. For example central College support department numbers (HR, Finance, Facilities) have hardly changed. Emphasis has been on investing closer to members. There has been a massive investment in supporting the Divisions right across the UK and abroad. Support to Faculties has also increased.

We have also initiated some new central College activities. These include the new Policy Unit, Psychiatrists’ Support Service and the Service Users and Carers Recovery fora. All these initiatives are consistent with the College’s central strategic objectives of setting standards in psychiatry and mental health, supporting psychiatrists and working with service users and carers.

Looking ahead, our current lease at 17 Belgrave Square, which has very favourable terms, is going to expire in 2034. Work on finding a replacement has started already. This year the Trustees have also proposed that from every extra 5p raised in membership, 2p should go to the New Building Fund. The contribution from this will only be a small part of the total amount that will be needed. Major specific fundraising from other sources will be required.

There is no doubt however that the College needs to face the new reality of austerity. Council has asked the Chief Executive to work with the Officers to identify potential savings of approximately 10%. We will maintain and seek to enhance the successful downward pressure on travel and catering activities that we have achieved over the last two years. We are actively reviewing again the frequency and costs of meetings and our reception and similar activities. We have decided to terminate the lease we have on 15 Belgrave Square (next to 17 BS).

Compared to other organisations, the forthcoming austerity may be an opportunity to increase College influence through comparative strength; for example through a strong Policy Unit, influential local links and effective working with Service Users and Carers. With sound management, savings will be possible without taking any unnecessary risks.

One of the biggest financial challenges the College faces is raising the significant sum needed to secure new premises beyond the expiry of the lease on 17 Belgrave Square in 2034. In addition to the running and maintenance costs of £540k, the ground rent payable on the current lease is only £500 per annum.

The College hopes to raise the necessary funds through fundraising and increasing surpluses. At present the College has ring-fenced only £2.5 million for the needed funds for the new building.


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