Former BAAF staff write to Insolvency Service in plea for swift payment of redundancy money

The British Association for Adoption and Fostering closed in July with the loss of 51 jobs

BAAF: could not sustain itself
BAAF: could not sustain itself

A group of more than 40 former employees of the now defunct charity the British Association for Adoption and Fostering have written to the Insolvency Service calling for their redundancy payments to be made as quickly as possible.

The charity, which helped to find substitute families for children, closed at the end of July with the loss of 51 jobs, although some of its functions have been passed to other charities, including the children’s charity Coram, which has incorporated the elements it has taken over under the name CoramBAAF.

The BAAF said "significant changes and economic conditions" had made it impossible to sustain the organisation.

A letter sent yesterday to the Insolvency Service and signed by 43 people who are identified as former employees of the charity, says they were made redundant without notice on 31 July.

It says they were expecting their payments to have been made within between four and six weeks and says the six-week target would be reached today.

"Staff were assured by the administrators that their redundancy claims would be met by the Insolvency Service," the letter says. "Staff are relying on this payment until they secure alternative employment, and any delay in settling this is extremely worrying for all those concerned, and for their dependants."

It says that a number of these former staff are facing "extreme financial pressure such as rent, mortgage payments and supporting their families".

The letter says the Insolvency Service has confirmed that there is "an ongoing investigation into the sale and transfer of part of BAAF’s business to CoramBAAF", which could have a serious impact on the former employees’ claims for their statutory redundancy payments. These will be paid by the Redundancy Payments Service, which is part of the Insolvency Service and processes statutory redundancy payments when companies go into administration.

"We believe that the administrators Smith & Williamson are in discussion with the Insolvency Service in relation to specific details surrounding the sale of certain services to Coram and that, in the meantime, all redundancy and payment in lieu of notice payments to former BAAF staff will be delayed, with a possibility that the Insolvency Service may reject these claims," the letter says.

A spokesman for the Insolvency Service said that although it did examine the details of all claims it received, it had a policy of not confirming or denying whether a formal investigation in addition to these standard procedures was being carried out.

Matt Dunham, partner at the financial services firm Smith & Williamson and administrator of the BAAF, said that is was standard practice that the Insolvency Service investigated all claims that involved redundancies.

He said that making the redundancy payments was out of his control but his company had dealt with all the necessary paperwork within 24 hours of it being received to enable the payments to be made.

He said he was not sure about when any payments might be made but hoped it would be soon.

The letter also criticises the treatment of staff who have been made redundant. "Loyal charity staff, some of whom have worked for the charity for up to 32 years, have been dismissed with no salary, support or, at the time of writing, redundancy payment," it says. "It is completely at odds with BAAF’s own values and culture. As a widely respected membership organisation, pioneering the best in child-centred practice for the past 37 years, it has been shocking to see how quickly and mercilessly the charity has been dismantled."

A spokeswoman for Coram declined to comment. 

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