RSPCA reduces redundancy plan; 269 jobs still at risk

The RSPCA has reduced the number of staff it plans to make redundant following discussions with staff and union officials.

However 269 staffers at the animal charity are still set to lose their jobs as the charity looks to tackle a potential £47m deficit over the next three years.

The RSPCA had planned 300 redundancies “but after discussions with staff and the union, the number has reduced by 10%,” according to a statement from the charity.

The charity’s chief executive Chris Sherwood said: “We know this has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone and I'm grateful for all those who took part in the consultation process - staff, volunteers and the union.

"We've seriously considered every single proposal submitted and will be exploring some of the cost savings measures suggested by staff.

"As a result of discussions, we'll be keeping 31 roles which were at risk of redundancy, a majority of which are field staff."

In announcing details of the job cuts Sherwood added that some services will close. This includes services at Putney Animal Hospital and Southall Clinic in London as well as two Surrey rehoming centres, RSPCA Lockwood and South Godstone.

It will also stop delivering services at Southall Cattery Service.

"This is no reflection on the staff and volunteers and I would like to thank them for their dedication and commitment to the RSPCA and animals,” added Sherwood.

"This restructure was crucial to put the RSPCA on a strong financial footing, so we're sustainable to cope with the future demands and continue our important work to rescue those animals most in need.

"We'll work hard to support our staff through the difficult weeks and months ahead."

Covid-19 impact

The cost cutting measures come amid a review by the charity of its activities as part of a ten-year strategy.

“But the need for long-term structural change had become more acute following the impact of the Covid pandemic,” added the charity.

The RSPCA had already slashed its deficit from £20m to £12m ahead of the health crisis, but is forecasting a deficit of between £20 to £25m this year, possibly rising to £47m over three years.

The union Unite has accused the RSPCA of using Covid-19 “as an excuse” to sack workers “as part of a jobs’ cull strategy that predates the pandemic”.

Unite regional officer Terry Abbott said: “Our aim is to safeguard jobs at the RSPCA and the future of this much-loved organisation.

“The potential loss of so many frontline staff and animal welfare services is a huge shock and the vast majority of our members believe that Covid-19 is being used as a woeful excuse to implement cost-cutting measures that predate the pandemic.”

In February, Unite members at the charity voted to strike over the introduction of performance related pay contracts.

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