National Trust, Cancer Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society among latest charities to announce furloughing plans

The National Trust, Cancer Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society have become some of the latest charities to announce plans to furlough a large proportion of staff amid the coronavirus health crisis.

The National Trust has announced it will furlough as much as 80% of its 14,000 staff under the Job Retention Scheme due to an inability to trade amid park closures.

In a statement, the charity’s director general, Hilary McGrady said: “These are incredibly challenging times. Protecting our Trust during out closure so that we will be able to open again for the nation when the time comes is our main aim.”

“During closure we have essential work going on to keep important buildings, collections and gardens safe, secure and tended. And we continue to care for vulnerable wildlife. But most of our staff are simply unable to work and we are asking them to take leave from their day jobs to focus on caring for others, learning, and, where possible, volunteering to help with the broader civil society effort.

“We are really looking forward to a time when we can open our doors and gates again, for everyone.”

Alzheimer’s Society

Alzheimer’s Society is also among the charities to have announced plans to furlough staff, with 20% of the organisation’s employees being placed onto either furlough or reduced hours.

The charity employees over 2,000 people and faces a loss of £20m to its fundraising income this year as a result of cancelled or postponed fundraising events.

Unlike some organisations, the AS said it won’t be topping up people’s salaries beyond the government’s 80% as it seeks to prioritise frontline staff and ensures its resources ‘reach more people’.

The charity’s chief executive, Kate Lee said: “People affected by dementia need our support more than ever, but the coronavirus pandemic is hitting us hard – we estimate losing £20m in income over the next 12 months.

“Like all charities, our income has been affected by a whole range of challenges over the past two years, not least Brexit. Prior to coronavirus, we were therefore already looking at reshaping our future structure to best serve people affected by dementia and their greatest needs.”

Cancer Research

Cancer Research has also announced it will furlough up to 1,800 of its 4,000 employees using the government’s scheme after the charity was forced to cancel events and close its shops.

The charity has around 600 shops across the UK, which have all been closed for two weeks until further notice.

The charity’s chief executive, Michelle Mitchell said the charity expects its fundraising income to drop 25% in the coming months.

“While many things are still uncertain, it is clear that Cancer Research UK will be hit hard. We’ve worked quickly to understand how COVID-19 will impact our income, and therefore our ability to continue funding our life-saving work.

“We made a decision to protect our volunteers and our supporters by closing our shops and postponing many events. Whilst the right thing to do, this will have huge implications for our fundraising, and we expect to see a 20 - 25 per cent decline in fundraising income in the next financial year. It is essential that we respond, and quickly, and this has led to some difficult decisions. We’ve already deferred our spring research grant funding round, and we are making further cuts to our research funding. This is uncomfortable for us, but we must be realistic about what we can deliver given the current circumstances.”

A large number of charities have announced plans to furlough staff since the government pledged to support employers through its Jobs Retention Scheme, including Barnardo’s and Oxfam.

Under the scheme, employees will be kept on the payroll, despite not working. They will be paid 80% of their wages by the government and the organisation they work for can choose to pay the remaining 20%. Employees can be paid up to a maximum of £2,500 a month.

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