RNIB reports a surplus after four years in the red

The charity's accounts to the end of March last year show a surplus of £6.3m on a total income of £118.7m; the previous year saw a deficit of £12.6m

RNIB headquarters in London
RNIB headquarters in London

The sight-loss charity the RNIB made a surplus last year after four years of deficits, according to the latest figures.

The charity’s accounts for the year to 31 March 2018 reveal that it recorded a surplus of £6.3m on a total income of £118.7m, compared with a £12.6m deficit in the previous year.

The charity’s income in 2017/18 was broadly similar to that of the previous year, but expenditure fell by more than £20m to £112.4m last year.

A fall of more than £10m in spending on charitable activities, to £93.1m, and a fall of £9.7m in expenditure on raising funds, to £19.3m, were the main reasons for the fall in total spending, the accounts show.

The accounts show that a revaluation of its RNIB Pears Centre children’s home property, which subsequently closed amid a Charity Commission inquiry into the safeguarding of vulnerable beneficiaries, meant the value of the asset fell by £16.6m.

Once the fall in the value of the centre and an £11.3m gain on the charity’s defined-benefit pension scheme are included in the income figures, the total net movement in funds at the RNIB was a gain of £2.1m, according to the latest accounts.

The charity has gone through significant changes in recent years, with 100 job losses arising from the RNIB’s merger with Action for Blind People.

A restructure of the charity’s income-generating department, RNIB Solutions, led to 23 people being made redundant after the department posted losses of £4.2m in 2016/17 and lost money in four of the five years leading up to 2017.

The latest accounts show that the charity shed 252 staff in the 2017/18 financial year, but redundancy costs fell from £2.2m to £759,000.

The redundancy costs included in the accounts contain £67,383 of payments to members of the charity’s executive team.

The charity had previously said that the closure of the Pears Centre, which took place on 7 November, would lead to 180 jobs being lost.

The full cost of the centre’s closure has not yet been revealed, and an inquiry into the centre carried out by Hugh Davies QC on behalf of the charity is due to report later this year.

The accounts say that "the additional costs of our response to the RNIB Pears Centre, together with lost income, have placed increasing strain on our financial recovery in the 2018/19 financial year", but add that the issue is being addressed to "ensure that our financial recovery remains on track".

The charity also announced a new strategy and branding last year.

An RNIB spokeswoman said the charity was pleased to have ended 2017/18 with a surplus. She said the latest financial results were part of the charity’s "ongoing transformation to an efficient and sustainable organisation".

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