National Trust axes 1,300 jobs as lockdown recession hits charity

8 October 2020, 14:46

The National Trust will continue to open as many places as possible while restrictions remain in place
The National Trust will continue to open as many places as possible while restrictions remain in place. Picture: PA

By Matt Drake

The National Trust is expected to lose almost 1,300 jobs as it seeks to save £100 million of annual costs due to Government coronavirus restrictions.

The organisation, which warned in July that it might have to make 1,200 people redundant to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, has said it is making 514 compulsory redundancies following consultation.

A further 782 people have taken voluntary redundancy, as part of cuts to jobs that will save around £59 million a year.

The Trust is also saving around £41 million in annual costs from areas such as reducing travel and office costs and cutting marketing and print spend in favour of digital communications.

The coronavirus crisis hit almost every aspect of income for the conservation and heritage charity, which has 5.6 million members, shutting all of its houses, gardens, car parks, shops and cafes, and stopping holidays and events.

Today's figures are in addition to 162 people who were previously told they were being made redundant as £124 million of projects were halted or deferred - and who bring the total job losses linked to the pandemic to 1,458.

The National Trust said that it had halved the number of compulsory redundancies it had planned to make following consultation.

And changes to the plans have seen jobs in everyday maintenance and curatorial roles retained, along with roles focused on helping children learn, the charity said.

Read more: Starmer calls on government to publish data behind 10pm curfew

The Trust said it had already saved millions of pounds through freezing recruitment, drawing on reserves, borrowing, stopping or deferring projects and reducing marketing, travel and office costs.

Director general Hilary McGrady thanked staff, volunteers and members who shared their views on the proposals, saying the consultation had enabled the Trust to adapt its plans while still making the savings it required.

She said: "This is a very painful time for so many organisations, businesses and communities. The Trust is only as strong as it is because of its people - our staff, volunteers and supporters.

"No leader wants to be forced into announcing any redundancies, but coronavirus means we simply have no other choice if we want to give the charity a sustainable future.

"We have exhausted every other avenue to find savings, but sadly we now have to come to terms with the fact that we will lose some colleagues.

"We will do all we can to support those who are leaving, and others affected by these significant changes.

"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 nature needs, and ensuring our conservation work continues long into the future."

Read more: Calls grow for government to explain logic of 10pm curfew

The 514 compulsory redundancies include 62 hourly-paid staff, while the 782 voluntary redundancies include 146 hourly-paid staff.

Ms McGrady said the National Trust would continue to open as many places as possible while the UK battled Covid-19 and Government restrictions remained in place.

"The places and things the National Trust cares for are needed now more than ever, and will continue to play an important role as our nations recuperate and recover their spirit and wellbeing," she said.

"Our focus will remain on the benefit we deliver to people, every day. We must now focus on emerging from this crisis in a strong position."

General secretary of the Prospect union Mike Clancy said it was a huge number of job losses, but work from reps and officials had meant the level of compulsory redundancies was lower than it might have been.

He said: "The long-term prospects for National Trust and access to its properties and lands are hugely important both to employees and to the cultural health of the nation.

"The current plan, while devastating for those who are losing jobs they love, is a reasonable way to move forward, minimising job losses while hopefully safeguarding the National Trust's future."

The job losses come after it was revealed last week that the UK economy shrank more than it has done in 65 years, plunging nearly 20% in the second quarter, according to the Office for National Statistics.

It is the largest decline since quarterly records began in 1955 and reflects the harsh impact of ongoing coronavirus policies put in place since March.

Analysis by The Guardian showed mounting concern of a double-dip recession, just before a so-called "second wave" is feared to hit, and just as the Scottish and English Governments are on the verge of introducing yet more stringent measures to the hospitality industry.

Listen & subscribe: Global Player | Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify

Comments

Loading...