The National Trust is proposing £100m of annual savings following the impact of the coronavirus crisis – with up to 1,200 staff at risk of redundancy.
The charity warned almost every aspect of its income has been affected and it expects to lose up to £200m this year as a result of the pandemic.
Staff were given the news today, as Director General Hilary McGrady opened consultation on the proposals.
The National Trust currently employs 9,500 members of salaried staff. Of these about 13% (1,200) are proposed to be made redundant. In addition, it is also reducing its hourly paid staff budget by a third (£8.8m).
Ms McGrady told staff: “It’s with huge regret that I am telling you today about the need to cut jobs. The Trust’s strength is its people. Our institution has survived so long – through two world wars and a number of economic downturns, thanks to staff, volunteers and supporters.
“We would not be making these savings had we not exhausted every other possibility. We need to act now to ensure we are sustainable in the future.”
McGrady also pledged the Trust will ‘grow back stronger’ in the future, stepping up its efforts to help the nation get the rest, recuperation and recreation it needs.
Like most organisations, the Trust has been hit hard by the effects of the coronavirus. When the country went into lockdown the charity closed all its houses, gardens, car parks, shops, cafes, holidays and stopped events, quickly losing tens of millions of pounds of support.
As part of the review, the Trust hopes to save £100m – almost a fifth of its annual spend – through changing the way it operates and reducing its payroll and budgets.
Nearly 40% of the proposed savings (£40m) will be non-pay spending cuts, including reducing travel and office costs, reducing marketing and print spend in favour of digital, renegotiating contracts, reducing IT spend and introducing more efficient processes to manage key areas of the charity.
The Trust has already announced it is stopping or deferring £124m of projects, and introduced a recruitment freeze to reduce its staff costs. To help it get through the short-term impacts of the crisis it also furloughed the majority of its staff, drew on the Bank of England’s emergency coronavirus loan scheme, and is reviewing other rescue and stimulus packages being offered by the government.
While these measures have helped reduce the financial impact, Hilary McGrady said the short-term hit, coupled with the longer-term implications of social distancing and suppressed trading, meant there was a need for a full review of the organisation’s spending and priorities.
She said: “We are going through one of the biggest crises in living memory. All aspects of our home, work and school lives, and our finances and communities have been affected, and like so many other organisations the National Trust has been hit very hard.”
She added: “It is deeply upsetting to face losing colleagues and we are committed to supporting all of those affected.
“Sadly, we have no other course of action left open. In making these changes now, I am confident we will be well-placed to face the challenges ahead, protecting the places that visitors love and ensuring our conservation work continues long into the future.”
In Wales, Shadow Minister for Culture, David Melding MS, said: “The National Trust is of immense importance to Wales, given its many hallmark sites employs a large number of people and attracts substantial tourism.
“Today’s announcement that 1,200 jobs are at risk is a serious blow and my thoughts are with all those affected.
“The charity desperately needs to make £100 million in savings because of Covid-19, according to reports. For that reason I implore the Welsh Labour-led Government to initiate dialogue with the charity on possible support to halt potential job losses.”