Barnardo's could furlough as many as 3,000 staff to survive

Chief executive Javed Khan tells the Today programme that the charity lost £8m of its £25m monthly funding overnight because of Covid-19, and will have to take up the furlough option

Barnardo’s is set to furlough as many as 3,000 of its 8,000-strong workforce to help the charity survive the coronavirus pandemic, its chief executive has said.

Speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4 this morning, Javed Khan said the children’s charity was doing so after losing £8m of its £25m monthly income overnight because of the pandemic.

It would therefore take up the option of furloughing staff, whereby the government will pay 80 per cent or up to £2,500 of wages, whichever is lower, if staff need to be temporarily stood down because of Covid-19.

Khan told Today that 3,000 staff would be furloughed, although a subsequent statement from the charity said the figure could be 2,500.

Khan said the charity would top up staff wages so they would continue to receive 100 per cent of their salaries.

He said that between 600 and 700 staff would continue providing face-to-face services while adopting safety requirements.

Barnardo’s is among a number of charities reporting significant falls in income as a result of Covid-19, with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations estimating that a minimum of £4.3bn would be lost in income during the pandemic.

In a statement to Third Sector, Khan said: “In these extraordinary times, Barnardo’s is focused on continuing to protect vulnerable children, young people and families across the UK while also supporting our employees.

“We have lost some £8m a month overnight and, in order to protect jobs and the longer-term sustainability of the charity, we have been forced to make the difficult decision to place about 2,500 colleagues from across the charity on furlough leave.”

Khan said he wanted to see more action from the government to help charities, such as prioritising Gift Aid payments and automatically derring PAYE and national insurance.

“The government must act urgently so that charities like ours are here for vulnerable children for as long as they need us,” he said.

“We are calling for an automatic deferral of PAYE and national insurance for three months, making Gift Aid payments a priority, and ring-fencing grant funding to pay for the vital work needed so we can deliver our services remotely. Every day counts.

“But we are also more reliant than ever before on the generosity of the great British public. We have launched an emergency appeal to help us keep supporting vulnerable children during this crisis, and we would urge anyone who can donate to do so.”

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