Restructure of RNIB Solutions leads to 23 redundancies

The division, set up in 2013 to generate income, made a loss in four of the past five years

Twenty-three people have been made redundant after the RNIB cut more than 50 jobs in a division that was set up to generate income but ended up costing the charity millions of pounds.

RNIB Solutions, a directorate set up by the charity in 2013 to generate income and provide services such as talking books and a Braille library, made a loss in four of the past five years and has consumed approximately £10m of charity subsidy over the past three years.

The job losses are part of a process designed to restructure the division and improve how it is run.

A business case document seen by Third Sector in August showed that at least 52 jobs were at risk and a number of other staff faced having their hours reduced after the charity was forced to subsidise RNIB Solutions.

An RNIB spokesman told Third Sector at the time that the document was an internal consultation document that had been given to staff who might be affected, and the charity hoped the difficult decisions could be made in the most sensitive and respectful way possible.

According to the document, RNIB Solutions, which had 261 staff, was set up to eliminate the charity’s deficit, but in 2016/17 it spent £16.6m against an income of £12.4m, leaving a loss of £4.2m.

Following the consultation’s completion today, 209 full-time-equivalent roles will be retained at RNIB Solutions, a reduction of 52 jobs. Of the 52, 23 will involve staff leaving the charity, 17 of them through compulsory redundancy. Six people opted for voluntary redundancy.

Scott Lynch, managing director of RNIB Solutions, told Third Sector that the charity had minimised the impact of the restructure by removing vacant roles and redeploying some staff to other parts of the RNIB.

Lynch said all those who were being made redundant would leave the charity before the end of January, and a new senior leadership team in the division was in place.

Lynch said the consultation had led to a "narrower focus" on five key areas centred on important areas for beneficiaries and commercial income: information and content; public transport; financial services; retail and products; and educational content.

He said the consultation process "has been very successful in that we have got great engagement with staff" and the charity got "great feedback over those 45 days in which we were consulting".

He added: "It is good to have lessened the impact. Obviously we don’t like to make any of our colleagues redundant, but we need to have a sustainable cost base going forward."

The changes at RNIB Solutions follow a restructure of the main charity that took place earlier this year , in which 100 people left the RNIB, 70 of them through voluntary redundancy.

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