RNIB sold former London office for over £22m, accounts show

01 Feb 2024 News

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Sight loss charity RNIB sold its former London headquarters for £22.1m last year, according to its recently published accounts. 

The charity began the process of selling its old office on Judd Street in central London in 2021 after receiving an offer from AshbyCapital.

RNIB downsized by moving to the Grimaldi Building on Pentonville Road at Kings Cross last spring. Part of the proceeds from the sale were used for the replacement of the head office.

Matt Stringer, CEO of RNIB said: “Our move to the Grimaldi Building represents our future-facing approach to providing the best support to people with sight loss.

“We completely redesigned, repurposed and refit the building to ensure it could be accessed and enjoyed by everyone.”

The transformation of the building was completed by income generated from the sale of Judd Street, Stringer said.

He continued: “We will use the remaining money from the Judd Street sale to fund our new strategy which will be deployed over a number of years and tailored to ensure maximum impact and benefit to blind and partially sighted people.” 

Boost in total income

The charity’s net assets have increased from £114m to £136m for the financial year ending March 2023 due to the office sale. 

Free reserves held by the charity increased by over £12m for the year from £30.6m to £43.4m.  

RNIB’s office sale contributed to a significant boost in the charity’s total income from £85.7m in 2022 to £106.6m for the financial year ending March 2023. 

“Completing the sale of the Judd Street office puts the organisation in a good position to designate more than £30m of reserves for strategic investments to deliver greater and faster impact for blind and partially sighted people,” the charity’s latest accounts read.

The charity also reported that 52,000 people became new regular donors to the charity last year and it received £20.2m in donations overall, an increase of £1m on the previous year.

Regular gifts accounted for £18.8m of this, which included £6.4m of income from the charity’s lottery and raffle. 

Legacies also rose from £35.5m to £37.1m in 2023. The charity writes that nationwide delays in processing probate and “slowing down of the housing market” will continue to make an impact on its legacy income in coming years. 

RNIB’s total trading income fell by £900,000 to £19.7m for the year due to a fall in lottery income.  

93% increase in safeguarding concerns

RNIB received 131 concerns which met the threshold for referral to statutory services, a 93% increase in concerns since last year. 

158 referrals were sent to statutory services in response to these concerns. 

Meanwhile, the number of fundraising complaints RNIB received increased by 80% in a year to 242. The charity put the rise down to an increase in its fundraising activity. 

£290,000 spent on redundancies

RNIB’s operating expenditure for the year was £87m, up by almost £10m on the year prior. 

This is due to the charity investing £3.3m more into growing its fundraising activity last year and a further £2.5m into new campaigns. Some £4.7m was spent on additional investment in its services. 

RNIB reported spending £290,000 on redundancy and termination costs to 20 members of staff for the year. Some £80,000 was paid in compensation to six employees. 

It comes after 37 members of staff were made redundant the previous year, costing the charity £240,000. 

The accounts read: “These costs have been incurred as part of a programme of work to implement our strategy and ensure we have the right people with the right skills to meet the needs of our customers effectively.” 

Average monthly members of employees fell by 114 to 1,110 for the year. 

Salary costs increased despite the redundancies made, from £36.5m in 2022 to £38.1m last year. 

The highest-earning employee made between £180,000 and £190,000 during the financial year. 

While trustees are not remunerated for their role, travel costs are expensed by RNIB. Some £4,057 was spent on travel, lunches and overnight stays for meetings during the year, an increase of over £2,500 on the previous year. 

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