The British Heart Foundation (BHF) intends to consult with staff on reducing costs, which may involve making up to 300 roles redundant.
Its accounts for the year ending 31 March 2019 put the average full-time equivalent headcount at 3,485 people. Its income for the year was £338m.
BHF expects its net income to fall by 50% this year. This is largely due to the closure of its 750 shops for four months and cancellation of most of its fundraising events.
This fall in income means the charity must cut its support for new research by about £50m this year, and it could take many years for its funding to return to pre-pandemic levels. BHF fears this will threaten progress and prevent discoveries that could save and improve lives.
BHF has utilised the government’s job retention scheme, and negotiated with its landlords and suppliers to reduce costs. It has also put in place a recruitment freeze and cancelled its annual inflation-linked pay rise for staff.
However, it has said these measures are not enough, and therefore expects to consult staff on these possible redundancies.
'We’ve left no stone unturned in finding new ways of generating income'
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive at the BHF, said: “The coronavirus crisis is the single biggest challenge we’ve faced in our 60-year history and, despite the tireless commitment of our BHF team and supporters, threatens our life-saving work for the coming years.
“In addition to the health impact of the crisis, the financial shockwaves from this will be profound, threatening scientific progress and the discoveries that ultimately transform diagnosis, care and support for patients. We’ve left no stone unturned in finding new ways of generating income and reducing costs, but unfortunately, we must consider reducing our activities and the size of our workforce as we chart our recovery.”
Griffiths added that it was “an incredibly difficult decision”, saying “we deeply regret the impact this may have on those colleagues who are affected”. She said the charity will explore every avenue to minimise the number of job losses, including through the reallocation of roles within the organisation.
The BHF is urging the government to provide more support to charities and UK medical research through the crisis.
Alongside the Association of Medical Research charities and its 150 members, BHF is calling on the prime minister to establish a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund which would match charity-funded research over the next three years.
It warns that a failure to stabilise UK medical research could devastate the research careers of thousands of scientists, undermine the UK’s standing as a global research powerhouse, and ultimately delay new treatments and cures reaching patients.
Griffiths said: “The steps we’re taking will go some way to safeguard the BHF’s life-saving work, but the cliff-edge fall in our research funding will have devastating consequences that ultimately mean patients suffer. The stakes are far higher than the future of any individual charity
“We’d urge the prime minister and government to recognise that an investment in maintaining current levels of charity-funded research is an investment in UK science, the careers of thousands of talented researchers, and the future treatment of people with heart and circulatory diseases. Failing to make this investment could be hugely damaging to the future health of the nation.”
At the peak of the pandemic, calls to the BHF’s helpline rose by 400%.