NUS lost a quarter of its staff in the past year

The charity for students made 54 people redundant at the end of last year as it struggled with a financial crisis, and deleted a number of other roles when contracts expired or staff left

The National Union of Students has made almost a quarter of its staff redundant in the past year as the charity tries to address a financial crisis.

The NUS confirmed that it made 54 members of staff redundant at the end of last year, with the majority taking voluntary redundancy.

An unspecified number of other roles were also deleted when contracts expired or staff members left, it is understood.

A spokesman for the NUS said the voluntary redundancy scheme ran from 19 November to 12 December.

Fifteen of the staff who accepted voluntary redundancy left by 31 December, with the others due to depart by May, depending on when various projects and campaign work are completed.

The charity employed 241 people before the redundancies were made, its accounts for the year to 30 June 2017 show.

The redundancies come after a difficult year for the charity in which its financial performance has come under scrutiny.

The NUS’s most recent accounts say that the charity made a £3.5m loss because of "the write-off of intercompany loans" and the revaluation of its pension fund.

The accounts show that the charity’s pension liability was £12.2m – an increase of £3m on the previous year.

In comparison, the charity’s turnover was £24.1m for the year covered in the accounts.

But the accounts also say that the board "has no concerns over the future of the group and anticipates that the group will make a surplus in the next financial year".

The spokesman for the NUS said: "By providing colleagues with choice, in what is a difficult and emotional time for all of us, our intention was to reduce our staffing costs in a way that provided a positive exit for those whose applications were accepted.

"Even with the savings we’ve made so far this year, we know that we will still post a deficit in-year, and in subsequent years, without further action. 2019/20 will be a transition year that will require extraordinary action to ensure solvency and deliver a degree of financial stability."

The spokesman said that a meeting of the NUS joint board last week decided to maintain funding for 12 paid student officer posts in 2019/20 and pause funding for eight.

"This ensures that those officers we are electing are given the support and resources they need to deliver for students. This is an interim measure and specific to our transitional year of 2019/20," the spokesman said.

Simon Blake, the charity’s chief executive for three years, stepped down last year to take up the top job at the community interest company Mental Health First Aid England.

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