Liverpool MPs criticise Charity Commission job cuts

Plans to reduce staff numbers in the city by nearly 60 come under fire from two Labour MPs

Charity Commission
Charity Commission

Two Labour MPs with Liverpool constituencies have criticised the Charity Commission's plans to cut almost 60 jobs in the city.

Louise Ellman, MP for Liverpool Riverside, will meet commission staff tomorrow to discuss her concerns about the number of job losses and the manner in which they are being carried out. The commission employs 166 full-time equivalent staff – 46 per cent of its workforce – in Liverpool.

The number is expected to fall by 57 to 109 in October following a proposed restructuring caused by a cut to the commission's budget of more than a quarter, from £29.3m in 2010/11 to £21.3m in 2014/15.

Under the proposed new structure, the proportion of commission staff based in the city will be 40 per cent.

Ellman told Third Sector she was not convinced the commission needed to shed so many staff or that it had taken sufficient steps to prevent job losses.

"It needs to look and see if it can find other efficiencies and not reduce staff by this number," said Ellman.

She said she also feared the cuts would reduce the regulator's ability to deal with fraud.

Luciana Berger, Labour & Co-operative MP for Liverpool Wavertree, raised concerns in parliament this week about the job losses and the number of lower-paid staff that will be affected.

Berger called for "an urgent debate on how government cuts to the charitable sector are affecting the lowest paid".

A commission spokeswoman said: "We have made a range of efficiency savings over recent years and will continue to look at all the different ways in which we can reduce our costs. This includes looking hard at items like accommodation and other administrative expenditure.

"However, owing to the high proportion of our budget that is spent on staff costs – roughly two-thirds – we will not be able to meet our 33 per cent reduction in overall spending without a significant reduction in our staff complement across all our main sites."

The spokeswoman said the regulator was conducting "an evolving equality impact assessment", which was being updated throughout the strategic review.

The commission has not made any compulsory redundancies over the past 10 years, but the spokeswoman conceded that "some compulsory redundancies may be needed" if enough staff did not leave voluntarily.

Nick Hurd, the Minister for Civil Society, told parliament last week he was "confident that the commission can continue to be an effective regulator of charities in England and Wales".

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