BeatBullying 'dealt with staff horrifically' over financial difficulties and redundancies

A former employee of the charity outlines alleged poor communication and confusion over pay and potential redundancies in the past few months

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The announcement to staff of the financial problems that led to the closure of the anti-bullying charity BeatBullying was handled "horrifically", according to one of several former employees who have contacted Third Sector.

The employee, who asked not to be identified, said that the first time staff heard about the major financial problems at the charity, which last month resulted in it resolving to call in administrators, was on 11 August, when a section of the workforce was called into a meeting and told that their jobs were at risk of redundancy.

"The process was handled horrifically, with everyone finding out at once all in one room while other staff were being herded like cattle through the car park away from the office," the former staff member said.

On 26 August, the informant said, staff received an email from Emma-Jane Cross, the charity’s founder and chief executive, saying that only 85 per cent of their salaries would be paid that month, with the remaining 15 per cent to be paid as soon as possible.

The charity’s counsellors and moderators, who were employed as contractors, were told that they would be paid only half of their salaries, another source close to BeatBullying said.

On 11 September, it was confirmed that staff who had been warned of redundancy would lose their jobs, according to documents seen by Third Sector. They were also told that their pay in September would be cut by 10 per cent and they would not receive the remaining 15 per cent from August.

Some staff were subsequently told on 23 September, according to other documents seen by Third Sector, that they would receive only 50 per cent of their salaries for that month, with the remainder to follow a couple of weeks later, minus a 10 per cent reduction across all salaries.

The problem was put down to late payment of grants from funders.

The informant said: "When September’s pay day came around, staff did not receive any money at all in their bank accounts. No warning was given and there was no communication whatsoever. Everyone was shocked and angry at the lack of communication and respect.

"Some random amounts of money were deposited into bank accounts the following week, but it wasn’t the expected amounts.

"When October’s pay day came, no payments were made, and again there was no communication. Staff have tried getting hold of management to find out what is happening, but nobody answers the phone and we have just been told to ‘wait for the trustees’.

"All my plans are ruined and I don’t know what I am going to do about living costs. It’s Christmas soon and I literally have no money. They just don’t care about their staff – even the trustees haven’t apologised for the lack of payment.

"These are people’s lives; we have families, rent to pay, food to buy and so on."

The informant also questioned whether it was morally right to appoint 14 new staff members in 2014 despite the charity making a number of layoffs in 2013 and reporting a financial loss in 2012. The former employee said: "If a charity is experiencing such severe financial hardship, you can’t just cut roles left, right and centre and then suddenly have enough money to go on a recruitment drive."

A spokesman for BeatBullying said it was not in a position to answer questions because it was in negotiations with a number of organisations about purchasing part of the charity.

The charity’s most recent set of accounts show that it made a loss of £280,065 on an income of slightly less than £2.4m in 2012.

Its accounts for the financial year to December 2013 were due to be filed with Companies House on 30 September but are overdue, according to its online register. The accounts should also have been filed with the Charity Commission on 31 October, but a spokeswoman for the regulator confirmed yesterday that they had not yet been received.

The charity’s entry on the Charity Commission website says that it had 44 employees in 2012 and more than 5,400 volunteers.

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