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Oxfam GB cut 350 jobs last year as income fell by 9%

20 Jan 2022 News

Oxfam GB shed more than 350 jobs last year, as the charity responded to the impact of Covid-19 and completed its restructure plans.

The number is revealed in the charity’s annual accounts for the year to March 2021, which were published earlier this month.

The accounts also show that Oxfam GB moved more than £20m from its reserves to frontline spending in order to deal with a “significant deficit” of around £40m at the end of 2020-21. The annual report said that the charity is now rebuilding those reserves.

Annual income fell by 9%, mainly as a result of Covid restrictions on trading and a sharp drop in the value of government contracts, while total spending fell by around 4%.

Charity shops, furlough, emergency appeals 

Oxfam GB’s income was £344.3m in 2020-21, compared with £376.4m in 2019-20. The charity spent £368.8m, compared with £383.9m.

The fall in income was driven by the collapse of retail while charity shops were closed during the pandemic, with trading down from £93.5m to £39.4m.

The value of contracts with the UK government also dropped substantially, from £10.7m to just £1.6m. Oxfam GB was only given permission to bid for government contracts again in March 2021, after being barred in response to the Haiti sexual abuse scandal. That permission was removed a month later after new allegations emerged regarding the charity's work in the Democratic of Congo.

These falls were partially off-set by a rise in fundraising and emergency appeal income, from £18.8m to £23.9m, despite the cancellation of in-person events during the coronavirus crisis.

Oxfam GB claimed just under £11m from the furlough scheme, which the accounts said “helped cushion the blow” of losses elsewhere. More than 1,800 of the charity’s staff were furloughed at some point during last year.

£3m on termination costs

Oxfam GB also completed a long-planned restructure process during 2020-21 and ended the year with the full-time equivalent of 4,317 staff across the world, down from 4,684. The number of roles cut from the organisation is larger than it forecast last summer.

The cost of terminating staff contracts was £3.1m, double the previous year.

Humanitarian spending, reserves, safeguarding

The accounts show that the charity cut spending on its campaigning and advocacy work from £10.3m to £6.6m, while spending on humanitarian work overseas rose to address the global impact of coronavirus. Total spending on salaries fell slightly to £64m.

Chief executive Danny Sriskandarajah earned £120,900, a small pay cut compared to the previous year.

Oxfam GB’s free reserves shrunk from £40.7m to £19.2m, to help mitigate the financial impact of Covid-19. This left reserves well below the charity’s target of at least £35m.

The charity dismissed 16 members of staff over safeguarding incidents last year, and issued a further eight formal warnings to staff, volunteers and partners.   

‘Stress and strain’

Writing in the introduction to the annual accounts, Charles Gurassa, the chair of trustees at Oxfam GB, said that “this extraordinary year has placed huge personal stress and strain on all of us”.

He acknowledged that the charity “had to take some difficult decisions and make some hard choices”, which he said meant Oxfam GB was “well placed to meet the challenges of the coming years”.

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