RSPCA confirms it will make 269 redundancies

The animal welfare charity had originally proposed cutting up to 300 jobs but said 31 posts would be saved

RSPCA staff in London (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
RSPCA staff in London (Photograph: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The RSPCA will make 269 redundancies as part of a restructure accelerated by the coronavirus pandemic, it has announced. 

The animal welfare charity, which employs more than 1,600 people, said in June it proposed making up to 300 people redundant amid concerns it would record losses of up to £47m over the next three years. 

It said it had been reviewing all of its activities as part of a new 10-year strategy, but the need for change had been hastened due to the effects of Covid-19.  

In a statement today, the RSPCA said that after a consultation with staff and the union Unite, it would be making 269 redundancies and closing services at Putney Animal Hospital and Southall Clinic in London, and two Surrey rehoming centres, RSPCA Lockwood and South Godstone. It will also stop delivering its Southall Cattery service.

The charity is forecasting a deficit of between £20m and £25m this year, rising to a potential £47m black hole over the next three years if action is not taken.  

Following the challenges of the pandemic, the charity’s free reserves have dipped to a level which amounts to less than six months’ operating funds, which it says furthers the need for significant and urgent action to reduce costs.

Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the RSPCA, said: “We know this has been an incredibly difficult time for everyone and I’m grateful for all those who took part in the consultation process, staff, volunteers and the union. 

“We have seriously considered every single proposal submitted and will be exploring some of the cost savings measures suggested by staff.

“As a result of discussions we will be keeping 31 roles which were at risk of redundancy, a majority of which are field staff."

Sherwood said the decision to close the hospital, clinic and rehoming centres named above had been taken with a heavy heart.

“We will also stop delivering the Southall Cattery service, however, we are in active discussions with another charity over the possibility of transferring the service to keep it operating," he said. 

“This is no reflection on the staff and volunteers and I would like to thank them for their dedication and commitment to the RSPCA and animals.

“This restructure was crucial to put the RSPCA on a strong financial footing, so we are sustainable to cope with the future demands and continue our important work to rescue those animals most in need.”

Unite has accused the RSPCA of using the pandemic as an excuse to push ahead with pre-existing plans to sack workers, although this was strongly rejected by the charity.

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