Staff working for the National Trust in the Lake District are facing an uncertain future after the charity announced it is planning to make 1,200 staff redundant nationwide as it looks to save a further £100 million as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
The conservation and heritage charity said it initially needed to make £200 million in savings as a result of the COVID-19 crisis which forced the closure of all its properties, car parks, gardens, cafes and shops.
As well as furloughing staff, the trust had to draw on reserves, borrow and stop or defer projects.
As part of the review, the trust hopes to save £100m — almost a fifth of its annual spend — through changing the way it operates and reducing its payroll and budgets.
The proposed savings are expected to result in 1,200 job losses — returning the trust’s workforce to 2016 levels — following a decade that had seen the charity almost double in size.
Director general Hilary McGrady, who delivered the news and opened up consultation on the proposal, paid tribute to staff but said the effects of coronavirus meant savings were vital to make the 125-year-old institution stable in the long term.
Nearly 40 per cent of the proposed savings (£40m) will be non-pay spending cuts, including reducing travel and office costs, reducing marketing and print spend in favour of digital, renegotiating contracts, reducing IT spend and introducing more efficient processes to manage key areas of the charity.
“We would not be making these savings had we not exhausted every other possibility,” said Ms McGrady. “We need to act now to ensure we are sustainable in the future.”
Ms McGrady also pledged that the trust will “grow back stronger” in the future, stepping up its efforts to help the nation get the rest, recuperation and recreation it needs.
She said in future, visitors will play a greater part in bringing National Trust places to life, adding: “The nation’s beautiful places are not only for looking at, but for singing and dancing and reading, learning, cooking, crafting and creating in. And they belong to everyone.”
And she thanked the nation for its generosity after online and text donations had increased over the last three months with many making promises towards more fundraising for nature conservation in the future.
“We are going through one of the biggest crises in living memory,” she said. “All aspects of our home, work and school lives, and our finances and communities have been affected, and like so many other organisations the National Trust has been hit very hard.
“The places and things the National Trust cares for are needed now more than ever, as the nation needs to recuperate and recover its spirit and wellbeing. Our focus will remain on the benefit we deliver to people, every day.
“We have reviewed our spending and ways of working to ensure we emerge from this crisis in a strong position to keep on protecting and caring for places so people and nature can thrive.
“It is deeply upsetting to face losing colleagues and we are committed to supporting all of those affected. Sadly, we have no other course of action left open.
“In making these changes now, I am confident we will be well-placed to face the challenges ahead, protecting the places that visitors love and ensuring our conservation work continues long into the future.”
The charity says the reorganisation will allow it to continue the ambition it set out in January to step up its battle against climate change.
It aims to become carbon net zero by 2030 and wants to plant millions of trees to create green corridors for people and nature.