British Lung Foundation and Asthma UK say they want to merge

The merger could free up £2m a year for spending on research, according to the charities

- The article has been amended; see below -

Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation have announced their intention to merge.

The two charities said today that the merger would provide an opportunity to strengthen and build on existing collaboration between both charities, while freeing up £2m a year for research spending through savings on running costs.

Both charities would remain as separate brands for the foreseeable future, a spokeswoman for the charities said, but would merge into a single entity.

Asthma UK had an annual income of £7.8m in the year to 30 September 2018, its latest accounts show, and the BLF had an income of £9.6m in the year to 30 June 2018.

The spokeswoman said it was expected that fewer than 20 posts would be at risk as a result of the merger, but both charities had been holding back on recruitment in recent months to minimise the likelihood of redundancies.

Asthma UK currently employs 84 people and the BLF has approximately 100 staff, the spokeswoman said.

The charities will retain a headquarters in London and it is expected that the BLF offices in Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow will remain.

The chief executive of the merged charity will be Kay Boycott, the current chief executive of Asthma UK, the spokeswoman said, and Baroness Tessa Blackstone will be the new chair.

Penny Woods, current chief executive of the BLF, will remain at the charity in another role in order to support the new board.

The new charity’s board will also have an equal number of trustees from both of its predecessors, the spokeswoman added.

An extraordinary general meeting will be held by Asthma UK on 2 December to approve the merger. The spokeswoman said that, if accepted, the merger would be expected to go through before the end of the year.

Boycott said: "The merger would be an exciting new chapter in the history of Asthma UK.

"Together, as a partnership of equals, we would share our combined energy and passion and become a stronger, more powerful voice for change.

"Supporters and other beneficiaries of our work would not see any major change in their day-to-day links with us. We would keep our focus on and maintain the profile of asthma within the merged charity because we know this is important to our supporters."

Woods said: "Our proposed partnership builds on the successful collaboration between Asthma UK and the British Lung Foundation over the past few years.

"As we develop our joint vision and strategy, we will continue to explore opportunities for closer working, doing so where we believe we will have more impact together. We are confident this proposal would bring lasting benefits for those affected by asthma and other lung diseases."

- The article previously said no decision had been taken on the new charity's chief executive and chair, based on information provided by the charity. The article has been updated to reflect that a chief executive and chair are in place.

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