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Occupy London opens its cash account to scrutiny

 

Ever since the intial statement of its City of London Policy Group, Occupy London has made a point of requesting that the City of London Corporation make full details of its Cash Accounts public. [1]

Our call has had a significant real-world impact.

On 17 November, BBC Radio 4 broadcast an edition of The Report on the subject of Occupy London Stock Exchange in which Stuart Fraser, outgoing policy chief of the City of London Corporation revealed that “now, under transparency, we’ve got to think about it [releasing details of the City Cash] very seriously. Let me put it this way, it is under discussion.”

Then, just before Christmas, Fr William Taylor – former Common Councillor with the City of London Corporation from 2001 to 2003 and again from 2005 to 2008 – made history by putting the first portion of those accounts into the public domain. [2]

Occupy London is thrilled that this information is now coming to light – and not before time.  We remain mindful of the need to be seen to apply the high standards we ask of others to our own activities. This we are now doing, in our first major statement of 2012.

Just over a month ago, Occupy London undertook a major review of the way we handle the cash donations we have been fortunate enough to receive since our occupations began. In the early days, a barely-used Climate Camp bank account was adopted as a temporary repository for electronic funds, with our General Assembly’s blessing.

The initial priorities of the Occupy London Finance Group were to ensure accessibility ad accountability within the Occupation. At the end of November members of the Finance team staffing their daily drop-in session had to contend with urgent requests for money from two of the working groups concerned with ensuring the basic functions of the camp.

These two working groups were asking for funds that exceeded the limit the Finance working group was empowered to hand out without direct General Assembly approval. There was recognition on all sides that the operating rules for the Finance working group were inadequate to deal with the situation.

The new ‘interim Finance group’ initiated a spending freeze during which issues of transparency, accountability, spending priorities, bank accounts and creative use of resources were discussed. After an intense week of debate, a new system was agreed at General Assembly on the following principles:

  • Working groups may submit requests for money for specific items/activities. The Finance group collects these requests.
  • At a weekly Occupy London Finance General Assembly, working group representatives explain their requests and the GA decides whether to grant them, bearing in mind that our aim is to ensure spending does not exceed the donations received in any given week, barring exceptional circumstances.
  • Priorities will be discussed and reviewed regularly.
  • Working groups will keep clear and transparent records.
  • Receipts for previous expenditure must be presented before another request will be granted.
  • The movement will aim to source materials via freecycle and similar schemes where possible.
  • Fundraising will be prioritised in the New Year.

Records of the donations received each week and the results of the weekly Finance General Assemblies have been published internally for some weeks. Now that the new system has bedded in, we are pleased to announce the appearance of those records on the main Occupy London website. [3]

We understand that many are keen to know more about our financial position.  At the time of writing our bank balance is £14,547.98.

We endeavour to ensure that our spending for any given week does not outstrip donations received.

In the past week we received £90 in online donations and just over £2000 in cash donations. The festive season means that our cash donations last week were higher than usual. At the same time, expenditure has been higher as we’ve dealt with a backlog of receipts from during the spending freeze.

We wish to reiterate our gratitude to all those who have contributed so generously to our cause. Occupy London resolves to do those donations justice in the coming year in our continuing campaign for economic and social justice.

The Finance Working Group has also just published answers to a list of Frequently Asked Questions. [4]

Notes

[1] Occupy London gets moving on policy – initial statement of the City of London Policy Group – http://occupylsx.org/?p=839

[2] Time for City of London to be more transparent about its City Cash accounts – New Year’s resolution?- http://occupylsx.org/?p=2657]]

[3] Weekly budget approved by GA – http://occupylsx.org/?page_id=2771

[4] Occupy London Finance: Frequently Asked Questions – http://occupylsx.org/?page_id=2797

 
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