Welcome to our virtual tea party to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the National Trust. We have a special message of thanks from our Director-General, Hilary McGrady and our president His Royal Highness, The Prince of Wales, so why not settle down with a cup of tea and even a slice of cake whilst you watch.
National Trust to make 1,200 staff redundant
Charity lost almost £200m after coronavirus lockdown shut its houses, gardens, car parks, shops and cafes
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The National Trust is planning to make 1,200 staff redundant as it looks to save £100m in the wake of coronavirus.
The conservation and heritage charity, which has 5.6 million members, said it had lost almost £200m as a result of the Covid-19 crisis, which forced the closure of all of its houses, gardens, car parks, shops and cafes, and put a stop to holidays and events.
The trust said it had already saved millions of pounds through furloughing staff, drawing on reserves, borrowing and stopping or deferring projects, but still needs to make savings to keep it sustainable in the long term.
It has proposed £100m in annual savings, equivalent to almost a fifth of its yearly expenditure, through changes to operations and cuts to staff and budgets.
Director general Hilary McGrady said the organisation would continue to care for historic sites, and tackle climate change, loss of wildlife and unequal access to nature, beauty and history.
A quarter of furloughed workers could be made redundant in September
Some 1,200 salaried staff face redundancy as part of £60m proposed pay savings – about 13 per cent of the 9,500-strong salaried workforce.
The move, which comes after a decade which saw the National Trust nearly double in size, would bring staffing levels back to what they were in 2016.
The plans also include £8.8m savings by cutting the budget for hourly paid staff such as seasonal workers by a third.
The remaining £40m of savings will be made in areas such as travel, office costs and IT spending, through reductions in marketing and print spending in favour of digital communications, and by renegotiating contracts.
The trust has already announced it is stopping or deferring £124m of projects this year.
The charity said it is refocusing its efforts to protect cultural heritage, with limited cuts to staff caring for houses, gardens and collections.
There will be a shift from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to properties, with reviewed opening hours at some places and in some cases running a pre-booked guided tour system for visits.
The trust said it would continue its ambition, announced in January, to step up action against climate change, cutting emissions to net zero by 2030, planting millions trees and creating green corridors for people and nature.
It plans to restart the strategy in March next year, but Ms McGrady said the organisation would have to be “flexible” in achieving it.
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.
“The places and things the National Trust cares for are needed now more than ever, as the nation needs to recuperate and recover its spirit and wellbeing.
“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.”
Mike Clancy, general secretary of Prospect, the union for National Trust workers, said the priority was minimising the number of redundancies, maximising voluntary redundancy and getting as good a deal as possible for those who lose their jobs.
He warned: “At the moment there are no plans for National Trust to close whole properties, but they are shutting ‘unprofitable’ shops and cafes and the worry is that it’s only a matter of time.
“Once jobs are lost and assets are closed it is very hard to recover them.
“Access to our cultural heritage should be an essential part of society’s recovery from the pandemic, and the government should be doing everything it can to protect it.”
He said Prospect would be pushing ministers to ensure the rescue package announced for arts, culture and heritage get to where it is needed in a timely manner.
Additional reporting by Press Association