The RSPCA is consulting on up to 300 redundancies, saying that the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to restructure.
The charity, which employs more than 1,600 people, announced that it had been reviewing all its activities as part of its 10-year strategy, but that the need for change has become more acute following the impact of the pandemic.
The charity had reduced its deficit from £20m to £12m ahead of the crisis, but is now predicting a deficit of £20 to £25m this year, rising to a potential £47m “black hole” over the next three years if action is not taken now.
The RSPCA’s free reserves have dipped to a level which amounts to less than six months’ operating funds.
Data for the financial year ending 31 December 2018 puts its income at £142m and spending at £159.8m.
'We are expecting extremely difficult times ahead'
Chris Sherwood, chief executive at the RSPCA said: “We know this is a really difficult time for our staff and the proposals we are putting forward have not been taken lightly. This is an incredibly challenging time for charities – the current crisis has exacerbated an already difficult financial situation our organisation faces.
“We are expecting extremely difficult times ahead as we feel the impact of the anticipated recession.”
The charity said it will share more details of the proposed changes with employees following the start of a formal consultation next week.
Sherwood added: “I understand this is an incredibly unsettling time for our staff and I am sorry to be adding to their concerns during these very challenging times but we are making these changes out of necessity.
“We are facing one of the biggest challenges in our history and we need to ensure we can adapt and change now to protect the vital services we provide to animals for the future.”
The charity has been involved in a dispute with its union over the last few months over other reforms to save money.
Earlier this year members of the Unite trade union had voted in favour of strike action over new contracts and a new pay and reward framework.
Today the charity said that an agreement regarding the new contracts of employment was reached in March.
The RSPCA is on the brink of the biggest overhaul of its governance since 1974. Chief executive Chris Sherwood talks Kirsty Weakley through his vision for the future.