Age UK Newcastle closes down

One of the oldest charities in north-east England, it had been loaned £120,000 by the national brand partner Age UK

- This story was corrected on 20 April 2018; please see final paragraph

Age UK Newcastle – one of the largest charities in north-east England – has closed.

Its demise has implications for its brand partner, the national charity Age UK, which had loaned it £120,000 to expand its services.

According to its latest accounts filed with the Charity Commission, Age UK Newcastle employed 111 staff and had an income of £2m in the financial year ending 31 March 2016.

The previous year it earned £2.8m and had 175 employees, documents show.

Age UK issued an unsecured loans of £120,000 four years ago to help Age UK Newcastle to expand its care home service.

The loans were due to be repaid at 2.5 per cent interest over two years, starting from 1 April this year, with the most recent accounts showing an outstanding balance of £126,000. 

Age UK also awarded various grants worth more than £80,000 in 2016.

Age UK Newcastle had received additional loans worth £290,000 from Newcastle City Council over two years and used a bank overdraft of £25,000 to cover its liabilities.

Nobody from Age UK Newcastle was available for comment.

Its website has been replaced with a message directing people to the administrators RSM Restructuring LLP and Age UK.

An Age UK spokeswoman said in a statement: "We have offered the board of trustees a range of support and guidance over the past couple of years.

"However, ultimately it was for them to make decisions in the best interests of older people in their local area."

The statement added that the two organisations had "worked closely", but the spokeswoman did not reply to questions about its funding of Age UK Newcastle.

A Newcastle City Council spokeswoman said in a statement it had issued loans to help with "cash flow difficulties" while the charity restructured and attempted to increase income from its homecare service.

She added: "This initial loan facility was £150,000, but later increased to £290,000 as part of a stepped repayment plan.

"It was also kept under constant review, but unfortunately it became clear that Age UK Newcastle was unable to pay it back.

"In 2015 we became aware of difficulties it was experiencing in the homecare services market and, at its request, transferred service users to other care providers."

Age UK Newcastle, which provided a range of advice and support services for older people, dated back to the formation of the Old People's Welfare Committee in 1948.

In 1965 it adopted the name Age Concern Newcastle, which it kept until 2011 when it became a brand partner of Age UK, which was formed through the merger of Age Concern and Help the Aged in 2009.

- The story originally said Age UK had provided the Age UK Newcastle loans totalling £249,000. 

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