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About UCU's political fund

Information on how UCU uses its political fund.

What is a political fund?

Since 1913 trade unions who wished to be involved in activity that might be deemed political had to ballot their members on the establishment of a political fund.

In 1984 the Conservative government changed the law to make unions ballot every 10 years. Although at first this could be a workplace ballot, they changed the law again to make postal ballots compulsory.

Does the fund mean supporting a particular political party?

Some trade unions use their political funds to support a particular political party, usually Labour.

However UCU operates a fund which expressly does not contribute to any political party. All our political fund income is used to promote the interests of UCU members, campaigning and lobbying irrespective of party political affiliation. This means membership of UCU does NOT of itself entitle you to a vote in, for example, a political party leadership election.

What can the fund be used for?

Employers spend millions of pounds lobbying government and politicians to make them see things their way. The UCU political fund helps redress that balance.

For many of our members the fact that the government is the main funder of further and higher education means that many of our campaigns such as for better pay and pensions; more funding; or against privatisation could be deemed political.

However even workplace campaigns such as against casualisation of contracts in FE and HE have a 'political' context and might require UCU to lobby politicians or produce briefing materials for parliament.

When campaigning to defend jobs, or improve pay and pensions we want to be able to be as effective as possible, which means being able to undertake political lobbying.

Election periods are an important time to build and strengthen our campaigns and we need to be free to continue these activities during these times.

During election periods we need to be able to lobby, to provide information to candidates, to inform members of candidates who support our campaigns or to argue against parties of the far right, such as the BNP.

However, lobbying and campaigning takes place all year round and not just in Westminster but also in all the devolved institutions. For our voice to be heard we need a political fund.

Information Members, on an individual basis, can opt out of paying into the fund (and Northern Ireland members, governed by separate legislation, can opt in). The contribution level is one per cent of subscriptions.

Political fund review 2008

UCU's most recent ballot to retain its political fund was held in 2008 when members voted in favour of retaining the fund.

72.9% of those voting voted in favour of the resolution. The turnout in the ballot was 26.8%.

The scrutineer's report is available here: UCU political fund ballot 2008: scrutineer's report [74kb] (opens in a new window)

Any member can request a hard copy of this report.

The scrutineer appointed for this ballot was Electoral Reform Services, 33 Clarendon Road, London N8 0NW. The rules under which this ballot was conducted can be found below.

Political fund review ballot: explanatory statement [319kb] (opens in a new window)

Rules for a ballot to maintain a political fund [188kb] (opens in a new window)

Last updated: 19 April 2016