The Scout Association has put nearly 50 jobs at risk and warned that even more staff could face redundancy later this year if it cannot secure additional funding.
In an announcement last week, Tim Kidd, UK chief commissioner, and Matt Hyde, chief executive, set out a range of measures that the Scouts will be taking to address a projected £3m deficit. They said they have “no option” but to reduce its staff costs.
“Before the impact of Covid-19, we were already in a position to consider taking measures to protect our finances, due to increasing costs to provide the essential services,” they said. “Now with Covid-19, the need to take action has accelerated.”
The Scouts furloughed 50% of head office staff during lockdown and stopped non-essential spending, but is still facing a £3m deficit.
It has now begun a consultation on nearly 50 redundancies.
“While making cuts in this area was always going to be our last resort,” Kidd and Hyde wrote, “we have no other option. And so we are in the midst of consultation with staff, mainly in our commercial and back office areas, about making just under 50 redundancies.
“Depending on what funding we can secure, we may have to go further later in the year.”
This will be the second round of redundancies this year. In February Scouts warned it was facing financial challenges, and six people were made redundant following a consultation.
For the financial year to March 2019, the Scouts had an income of £37m, with spending of £37.5m. Some £29.7m was spent on charitable activities. Staff costs were £13.6m and the charity employed the full-time equivalent of 337 people.
The Scouts is also looking to cut costs and raise more money in other ways.
It has taken the “sad but necessary step” to close its hotel and hotel and conference centre at Gilwell Park in Epping Forest, London, because the business is no longer profitable.
The building will not be sold and the “space will be repurposed to support our headquarters and adventure centre”.
After consulting, the board has voted to increase the charity's membership fee for 2021-22 by £7.50, with £1.50 ring-fenced for hardship funding for groups who can’t access funding.
The charity is also ending its membership magazine from this month, which will save on printing and postage costs.
“We know that stopping the magazine may come as a disappointment to some,” Kidd and Hyde said. “While it’s the end of an era, our society is rapidly changing, demanding quicker responses, more sustainable choices and flexibility in the way we communicate.”
They said the charity will look to make more use of online and digital communications tools in the future.
Girlguiding: 'We have been severely hit'
Girlguiding has also begun a redundancy consultation with its staff because it is facing a £4m deficit.
For the financial year to 31 December 2018 it had an income of £25m, with a spending of £22m. The charity employs 286 people.
Angela Salt, chief executive of Girlguiding, said: “We are collectively living through a global crisis. Like many other organisations, Girlguiding’s activity and services have been badly hit. Our deficit is now over £4m and we anticipate there could be further losses in 2021. We are acting now to secure the long-term sustainability of Girlguiding.
“The staff at Girlguiding are committed and passionate about our mission and the work they each do to help girls thrive and support volunteers. We are deeply saddened that we are in this difficult financial position, like many others as a result of the impact of Covid-19, and are now having to take cost saving measures to sustain us for the future.
“We are not alone in the charity sector in needing to make valued staff redundant and reduce costs.”
The charity declined to reveal how many staff were facing redundancy until the consultation has been concluded.