Cancer Research UK to cut almost a quarter of its workforce

The charity says it needs to lose about 500 roles in response to a predicted £300m fall in income over the next three years

Cancer Research UK is set to reduce the size of its workforce by almost a quarter as a result of a predicted £300m drop in income over the next three years. 

The charity’s three-year strategy, unveiled today, also revealed it would have to reduce its spending on research by £150m over the next four to five years. 

In a statement, the charity said the “tough choices” it was making followed “the devastating impact of Covid-19” on its fundraised income, which it projected would fall by £160m, or 30 per cent, this financial year, and £300m over the next three.

In the year to March 2019, the charity had an income of £671.9m, £430.8m of which was from voluntary income. The charity is consistently ranked as the highest earning fundraising charity in the UK.

“There will be a greater focus on investing strategically for the future, whilst contracting in other areas amidst continued financial uncertainty,” the statement said.

The charity said it would be looking to reduce the size of its workforce by 500 roles, or by about 24 per cent.

It said a recruitment freeze it put in place in response to Covid-19 earlier this year would reduce the impact on staff but that it still expected to make between 295 and 345 redundancies over the next six months, equivalent to between 14 and 17 per cent of staff. 

These figures do not include its trading workforce, the statement said. 

The charity said there would also be “unavoidable” cuts to its research spending, which will fall to £250m within four to five years – £150m less than it had planned to spend, the charity said. 

In the statement, CRUK said it also planned to introduce a new research model “designed to maximise impact from a lower level of spend”, a move which it said would be phased carefully to minimise the impact on the research community and its existing work. 

It said the charity was doing everything it could to help find more financial support and called on the government for help. 

The statement said the charity would be “more focused than it has ever been – doing less, but maintaining the highest quality in its work”. 

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of CRUK, said it had become clear the pandemic would have a huge economic impact for years to come and that the charity had made “some very difficult decisions” early on in the crisis to try to mitigate its impact, including furloughing 60 per cent of staff. 

“But it is with a heavy heart that I can confirm we will have to reduce the size of our workforce, and make significant cuts to our research spend, as a result of the situation we find ourselves in,” she said. 

“With such a significant shortfall in income, we cannot afford to keep spending at the same levels. But that doesn’t make those decisions any easier.

“We’re keeping our dedicated, hard-working staff up to date on developments as we have them, and their professionalism throughout this period has been hugely appreciated.”

She said the plan had set the direction for a new phase in the life of Cancer Research UK which would streamline it and help it respond to the changed world. 

She said she still believed the charity could realise its ambition to improve the cancer survival rate to three in four by 2034.

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