RNIB made a £12.6m loss last year

The sight-loss charity's latest accounts show income at £119.2m and expenditure at £132.8m, with a net gain of £1m on investments

RNIB headquarters in London
RNIB headquarters in London

The sight-loss charity the RNIB made a loss of £12.6m in the year to 31 March 2017, the charity’s latest accounts show.

The accounts, which were released on the Companies House website at the end of last week, show that RNIB’s total income for the year was £119.2m, compared with expenditure of £132.8m.

The charity made net gains of £1m on its investments, leading to an overall loss of £12.6m.

A spokesman for the charity said £4.3m of the overall losses related to exceptional costs for the restructuring and reorganisation of the charity, with the remaining operational loss of £8.3m for 2016/17 "a £1m improvement of £9.3m on the previous year".

The RNIB paid out almost £2.2m in redundancy and termination costs in 2016/17, the accounts show, compared with £1.3m the year before.

The charity has carried out two significant restructures in the past year, one of which was prompted by the completion of a merger with Action for Blind People. This led to 100 people leaving the charity, 70 of them through voluntary redundancy.

A restructure of RNIB Solutions, a department of the charity, in late 2017 also led to 23 staff being made redundant.

The latest accounts show that the charity made an actuarial loss on its defined-benefit pension scheme of £16.8m, compared with a £2.7m loss the previous year.

The RNIB group’s reserves stood at £14.6m, compared with £27.8m the previous year, below the trustees’ target of between £18.3m and £27.5m.

But the accounts say that the charity’s financial transformation plan will move the RNIB to a "financially sustainable position" over the next two years and increase reserves to within the trustees’ target.

A spokesman for the RNIB said: "The reported losses are part of the financial transformation embarked on at the RNIB.

"We expect to stem that operational loss fully in this current financial year, 2017/18.

"The accounts show a significant actuarial loss on the main pension scheme of £16.8m. This is mostly due to external factors, including a significant decrease in the discount rate used to value the scheme liabilities. No additional cash payments result from this accounting valuation."

Action for Blind People, which merged into the RNIB in April 2017, has also filed its accounts for the year to 31 March 2017. These show that it made a total loss of £7.5m in its final year of operation, once investment income was included.

The loss reflects a fall in income from £27.9m to £22.6m, mostly due to a reduction in the funding the charity receives from it RNIB – this was £13.9m, compared with £18.8m the year before.

The accounts say this was entirely due to the decision to wind down Action for Blind People’s reserves before the transfer to the RNIB.

Expenditure at Action for Blind People was £30.5m, compared with £28.4m the previous year.

The RNIB spokesman said Action for Blind People’s losses were included in the RNIB’s group losses of £12.6m.

The accounts also confirm that one of three hotels run by Action for Blind People especially to cater for blind and partially blind people, the Lauriston hotel in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, was sold on 5 April. Another hotel, the Windermere Manor in the Lake District, was sold on 30 November last year, outside the scope of the latest accounts.

Action for Blind People had announced that it would stop running the three hotels, including the two that have now been sold, because they were expected to require a "significant subsidy" over the next few years.

There were no job losses from the sale of either hotel, with all staff transferred to the hotels’ new owners, the RNIB spokesman confirmed. Both hotels were sold as going concerns.

The third hotel, the Cliffden in Teignmouth, Devon, is still for sale as a going concern and is being run as normal while a new owner is sought.

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