Children's Society hit by job cuts

The Children's Society is axing a tenth of its workforce in an attempt to save £5m in the next financial year.

It has announced that 115 jobs will be made redundant as part of a sweeping programme of reform to streamline the charity's operations. After a three-month consultation period, the cuts will come into effect next March, with most affecting the charity's external affairs divisions such as marketing and communications, although internal support staff will also be hit.

Bob Reitemeier, chief executive at The Children's Society, said that the cuts were necessary if the charity was to remain accountable to its supporters and the public, and expressed regret that the redundancies were announced in the run-up to Christmas.

"Unfortunately lots of jobs are being lost in streamlining our management infrastructures, and bringing these cuts in during the last calendar month is tricky," he said.

"However, we sought advice from our senior management and the outcome was that they thought it was more respectful to staff to share the proposals with them before they broke. People knew this was coming so we didn't want to extend the uncertainty over the Christmas period."

He also admitted that the charity had not put a recruitment freeze in place in the run-up to the job losses and that some staff likely to be made redundant had only been at the charity for a matter of months.

"I respect the fact that the scale of the cuts has come as a shock to some," he said. "However, it's just not appropriate for a children's charity to introduce a recruitment ban, as it's our responsibility to make sure that our projects are well-managed and effective."

The job cuts reflect the decision to pare down the society's regional divisions from eight to three, and focus on four distinct areas of work - children at risk on the street, those in trouble with the law, disabled children and refugees.

Last year, the Christian-based organisation cleared a historic deficit that ran into millions, and the charity says that the new structure is designed to ensure it remains solvent in the years to come. It gets its funding from various sources including the public and the Government.

"We're constantly looking to the future and we take very seriously the need for charities to demonstrate their impact," said Reitemeier. "We're trying hard to respond to public pressure to ensure that we're supporting the children we're here to help in the best way that we can."

The news comes weeks after job cuts were announced at Carers UK, the RNIB and Help The Aged, and ends a year marred by voluntary sector redundancies at high-profile charities such as the RSPCA and RNID.

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