The Chartered Institution of Wastes Management (CIWM) has admitted that its current financial performance is unsustainable.
It has sought to reassure members after its president issued a letter for this week’s annual general meeting that admitted to a deficit of £223,000 for 2017.
The CIWM has recorded deficits of a roughly similar size every year since it last returned a surplus in 2012.
Professor David Wilson said in his letter that, while training arm Wamitab had made a £189,000 surplus, trading company CIWM Enterprises had lost £110,000 and the institution had lost £302,000 from “the difference between the cost of providing the services to members we wish to provide and the income from membership fees”.
Wilson said this was due in part to a 10-year decline in the number of non-chartered members paying fees, although chartered membership had been stable.
He said the organisation’s trustees had agreed to continue support for CIWM Enterprises because “they are satisfied as to the future financial viability of the trading subsidiary”, which had repaid what it owed the CIWM and was now trading profitably.
But Wilson said the overall position of the group – CIWM, its trading arm and Wamitab – “remains unfavourable”.
The CIWM said in a statement that its “current performance is not sustainable in the long term and [it] is taking action to address this”. It noted that reserves of £3.7m gave it “a strong financial position to weather the current economic conditions”.
The fall in non-chartered members was attributed to the recession a decade ago and subsequent austerity measures at local authorities, which had left both them and several companies unwilling to pay CIWM membership fees for their staff.
It also said there had been “challenging market conditions” for the RWM exhibition, of which the CIWM is a partner.
CIWM chief executive Colin Church, who is due to leave this autumn, said: “The financial health of the CIWM has been top of the agenda as trading conditions have become more challenging, and measures have been taken to reduce costs and increase revenue.
“These include a refocus on the CIWM’s core strength – its membership. [The organisation] now has a much better understanding of members’ needs and, for the past 18 months, has been working to improve the membership offer and the technical support that CIWM gives to its members.”
Church said an external consultant, Andrew Garcia, had been hired to help develop a business plan to return the institution to profitability and advise on process changes.