British Heart Foundation and Scope furlough large numbers of staff

The BHF has put 80 per cent of its workforce on furlough, while Scope has done the same with another 23 members of staff, so that 67 per cent of its employees are now on furlough

Scope charity shop
Scope charity shop

The British Heart Foundation and the disability charity Scope have become the latest major charities to furlough large swathes of their workforce in response to the coronavirus crisis. 

The BHF revealed it had furloughed about 3,200 employees – around 80 per cent of its 4,000-strong workforce – until at least the end of May. 

Meanwhile, Scope, which has furloughed 537 of its 842 employees, confirmed it planned to furlough an additional 23 next month, which would means 67 per cent of its workforce would be furloughed. 

Most of the furloughed BHF staff members worked in the charity’s chain of shops, the charity said in a statement, but some had been furloughed in other departments, such as fundraising, “due to the disruption, cancellation or pause of charitable work” caused by the pandemic.

Charmaine Griffiths, chief executive of the BHF, said the charity would top up the 80 per cent furlough pay provided by the government, so staff would still receive their full wages.

She said the charity had chosen to furlough staff to protect its work because it estimated that the crisis was costing the BHF at least £10m a month.

Senior managers at Scope have also agreed to have their pay cut by 20 per cent during the crisis, and the charity has launched a 30-day consultation with non-service delivery staff about reducing their hours and salaries by 20 per cent from 11 May.

The charity estimates that these moves will save between £800,000 and £900,000 a month, but said there would still be a substantial shortfall after its monthly income, normally between £3m and £4m a month, fell by 60 per cent in March. 

It also has launched an emergency fundraising appeal.

The charity said coronavirus was affecting its beneficiaries and was mentioned in 80 per cent of calls to its helpline. 

Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive of Scope, said: “Disabled people have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic. They are at the sharp end of the social and financial consequences.

“At Scope we’ve seen the need for our services increase. We’re helping thousands of disabled people and their families with benefit claims, dealing with drops in income, providing support on isolation and loneliness and helping with access to basics such as food.

“At the same time our income has dried up. That’s why we’ve launched an emergency appeal.”

He said furloughing staff would preserve jobs in the long term, protect the future of Scope and, most importantly, keep front-line services running.

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