RSPCA prepares to make one fifth of staff redundant

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Animal welfare charity the RSPCA is to make almost one fifth of its employees redundant, due in part to the collapse in charity fundraising during the lockdown.

The charity, which is facing a funding shortfall of up to £25m this year, was at this stage unable to say which of its 1,600 roles would be affected. It will put its proposals to staff during a formal consultation that begins next week.

“We know this is a really difficult time for our staff and the proposals we are putting forward have not been taken lightly,” said chief executive Chris Sherwood.

“We are a large animal charity offering many welfare services for pets, wildlife, farm animals and research animals both here and abroad. We are the only charity with a team of inspectors across England and Wales going out 365 days a year, rescuing animals and then caring for, treating and rehabilitating those animals, sometimes for many months on end, which is incredibly costly.”

Sherwood said the pandemic had been a challenging time for charities and had “exacerbated an already difficult financial situation our organisation faces”.

According to the Institute of Fundraising and Charity Finance Group, charities are facing a £12.4bn income shortfall this year, with each charity expecting to lose a quarter of their predicted yearly income, on average.

Ninety-two per cent of charities reported a fall in trading income during the lockdown, with just 5% reporting that their income had increased.

Peter Lewis, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, said: “This new research shows that the impact of coronavirus is going to have a hugely significant impact on charity finances for the year ahead. With social distancing remaining in place for the foreseeable future, and an exceptionally difficult time ahead for the wider economy, the fact that the charities who responded to the survey are planning for a loss of almost a quarter of their total income is extremely worrying.

“The government urgently needs to review and enhance its emergency support for charities, with a further bespoke package of support, an extension to the Job Retention Scheme that specifically supporting those charitable activities which are still unable to take place, or both.”

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