Top tips for managing social and economic committee (CSE) budgets effectively

You've just been elected to your company's social and economic committee and you've never exercised this mission before? In this article, you'll find the best advice for managing this new responsibility, as well as ideas for tools to help you manage the CSE's budgets.

Managing the budgets of the social and economic committee (CSE) is an essential part of your role as an elected member of the CSE, and one for which you will be held to account, both literally and figuratively! However, this can be a challenge for many CSE members who don't necessarily have in-depth financial skills. Let's take a look at a few simple tips to help you manage your budgets in the best possible way, and make sure you're in line with the obligations imposed by law in your new role as an elected member of the CSE.

Understanding the nature of CSE budgets

The management of CSE budgets is very specific. You are responsible for managing an operating budget and a social works budget, both of which must be used in a very specific way, and controlled on pain of sanction.

As a reminder, there are legal obligations linked to the financial management of the CSE. One of the most important is to ensure that the 2 budgets are separate: each is autonomous, which means that each must be housed in a separate account. In addition, it is necessary to keep accounts (commitment or income-expenditure) and to draw up an annual report on the financial management of the CSE. The latter must be brought to the attention of employees by means of compulsory posting.

The operating budget must be used to enable the CSE to function
correctly (and only to do so). It therefore includes expenses relating to :

  • training for CSE members,
  • equipment and CSE premises costs,
  • fees for accountants, lawyers, etc,
  • keeping CSE accounts,
  • to CSE communication,
  • CSE travel expenses.

The social works budget is dedicated to social and cultural activities (ASC) such as leisure activities and other employee benefits. The amount paid out is determined by the employer (who is the sole decision-maker). There is, however, one rule to be observed: the amount must be at least equal to the previous year's budget.

Find out more aboutthe budgetary obligations of the CSE.

Learn about the basics of financial management 

To manage ESC budgets, we recommend that you start by understanding the basics of financial management. Familiarize yourself with concepts such as revenues, expenses, budgets, financial forecasting and cash flow management. Online resources, books or specific training courses can help you acquire the necessary knowledge. But don't panic, you don't necessarily need to be a pure expert; basic knowledge will suffice in the first instance!

Set a realistic budget

Creating a realistic budget is essential not only for effective financial management, but also to ensure that your budgets are used in the right way, without overspending, and in compliance with the law. Analyze past expenses, identify fixed and variable costs, and forecast future expenses. Make sure you allocate sufficient resources to each item of expenditure, while keeping in mind the CSE's objectives and priorities.

Track expenses regularly

Regular monitoring of expenditure is crucial to avoid budget overruns and, in the most extreme cases, penalties.  

There are several ways to check that operating and welfare budgets are being respected, and that expenses are being properly tracked and accounted for: opt for manual processing, which can be adapted in the case of very low flows, or rely on software or tools that enable you to track expenses in real time, centralize your invoices, pay your suppliers securely with temporary virtual cards... Online pro accounts can be adapted as they enable you, in a single interface, to have two separate accounts for the social works and operating budgets at no extra cost, and at a rate 50% lower than traditional banks.

white paper cse budget management

Prioritize spending

Your financial resources are limited, so it's important to prioritize CSE expenditure to avoid unpleasant surprises. Identify the organization's essential needs, such as the financing of social works for employees, and concentrate resources on these aspects. This may also include expenditure on member training, occupational health and safety, or other priorities specific to your organization.

Negotiate with suppliers

Negotiating with suppliers can help you reduce costs and optimize your ESC budget. Look for competitive offers, compare prices and don't hesitate to ask for discounts or additional benefits. Practical solutions that compare several suppliers already exist and can save you time, such as the Happypal platform, which specializes in identifying useful services for CSEs.

Present your accounts clearly and transparently on a regular basis

Transparent communication is essential in your task of managing the CSE budget. Keep members informed of budget decisions, financial constraints and results achieved, and keep management informed too. If you have set up an expense management tool, you'll find it easier to present all the evidence of budget use, and will be able to track members' spending more easily.
Encourage the participation of all CSE members in the budget management process, and solicit their ideas and suggestions. This is not the sole role of the treasurer, even if he or she is specifically in charge of it.

And finally, train regularly

Managing CSE budgets is a constantly evolving field. The good news is that you can ask your employer for training to get to grips with your role, or use the operating budget when one of the members feels the need to upgrade his or her skills in a key area of expertise.