More than 140 jobs are at risk at Historic Royal Palaces, which has started consulting on redundancies after predicting a 90% loss of income.
The charity, which looks after six royal sites including Hampton Court Palace and the Tower of London, said in a statement yesterday that it expects to see annual income fall from £110m to just £10m because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The statement said that, as a result, HRP has “no choice but to take measures to reduce our costs”. The charity depends entirely on fundraising income.
Impact of lockdown
The charity was forced to close all six palaces during lockdown until the early summer, and has been impacted by substantial falls in international tourism.
HRP also said that it expected to run out of reserves by the beginning of 2021. The charity’s reserves were £5m at the end of March 2019, according to the latest accounts filed with the Charity Commission.
The charity’s statement said: “We expect our recovery to take several years, and that means we must plan to live within half our usual income.
“We have no choice but to take measures to reduce our costs.”
Wide use of furlough scheme
A spokesperson for the charity said that jobs at risk of redundancy included roles in public engagement department and in front of house work.
They also told Civil Society News that 85% of staff at HRP were placed on furlough until the sites began to re-open in June and July.
In addition to using the furlough scheme, the charity said that it has already frozen recruitment, ended seasonal contracts, and made “substantial adjustments” to pay and pensions. Some staff have already taken up voluntary redundancy.
The charity said: “The restructuring proposals include a reduction of 86 full-time equivalent [roles] out of the full complement of 1,165 (this equates to 145 roles potentially at risk of redundancy), plus other changes to terms and conditions.
“Final decisions will be made once the 45-day consultation is complete.”
Chief executive: 'We must act now'
John Barnes, the chief executive of HRP, said: “At every stage of this crisis, we have tried to limit the impact of the financial challenges on our staff, who care passionately about the palaces and our work.
“If we are to continue this work, we must act now to reduce payroll costs and make the charity financially sustainable.
“We are privileged to be the guardians of six remarkable places, but the dedicated team who care for them are the spirit of our charity, and we are deeply sad that it has come to this.”