Save the Children spent almost £850,000 on 'termination costs' in 2019

22 Jul 2020 News

Save the Children spent £847,000 on staff “termination costs” last year, according to its 2019 annual report.

This is nearly double the amount it spent in 2018, when termination costs came to £454,000.

The charity published its annual report for the year to December 2019 earlier this week. The report says that the terminations mainly affected staff working on programming, technology, fundraising and advocacy, and was the result of new operating models introduced to “improve delivery of our strategy”.

The combined number of UK and international employees decreased slightly from an average of 1,139 to an average of 1,067. 

Overall income in 2019 was £307m, up slightly from £303m in 2018.

Withdrawing from government contracts

The rise in income is despite the fact that government funding fell “significantly” after Save the Children decided last year to withdraw from bidding for contracts with the Department for International Development. As a result, income from DFID fell from £86m to £69m between 2018 and 2019.

The decision not to bid for new contracts was made in the wake of allegations about safeguarding failures at the charity, in both its international work and in its UK offices. A Charity Commission investigation into some of those allegations was concluded in 2018, and Save the Children conducted its own internal review in the same year.

Last week, a senior MP told parliament that Save the Children had “not covered itself in glory” over its handling of the allegations.

Legacies, trading, reserves

The report says that Save the Children raised £24m from legacies in 2019, and made £10m through trading profits in its 125 charity shops.

Its free reserves have dropped from £33.2m to £32.2m in the last 12 months, but still meet its target for holding at least five months’ costs.

The annual report also says that the charity decided to reject two donations last year, on the grounds that they were not “in the best interests of the charity – and ultimately, in the best interests of children”.

A Save the Children spokesperson told Civil Society News: “We undertake a robust due diligence process before accepting money from any donor who wants to support our mission. Such due diligence processes are confidential.”

One in four staff furloughed

Save the Children employed 957 staff in the UK in 2019, of whom 782 were based in its London headquarters.

In a statement released with the annual report, the charity says that it furloughed 200 members of staff in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Safeguarding

The report also contains a detailed account of how the charity has handled safeguarding concerns.

It says that Save the Children handled 246 reports of safeguarding concerns in 2019, the overwhelming majority of which involved staff and volunteers raising concerns which were unrelated to the charity’s work.

The charity investigated one report relating to staff conduct and six relating to the conduct of volunteers. Four internal investigations were still underway at end of last year, relating to concerns raised in both 2018 and 2019.

'Strong financial performance'

Charles Steel, the interim chair of Save the Children UK, said: “This strong financial performance in our centenary year allowed us to protect children in conflict, provide education in emergencies, and launch a battle to counter pneumonia, the biggest infectious killer of children under the age of five.”

Kevin Watkins, the chief executive of Save the Children, added: “The massive economic disruption and the lockdown have hurt many of our country’s poorest families, left children out of school and disrupted lives.

“The pandemic also threatens to bring devastation to the world’s poorest countries. Already weak health systems could be rapidly overwhelmed.

“As economic pressures mount, there is now a real and present danger that millions more children could be thrown into poverty, robbed of their education and subjected to devastating new health threats.”

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