RSPCA plans to close four hospitals or centres

The animal welfare charity says it predicts an income shortfall of £47m over the next three years

 (Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)
(Photograph: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images)

The RSPCA has proposed closing down four animal hospitals or centres as it attempts to tackle a predicted shortfall of £47m in its finances over the next three years.

Last week, the charity proposed making up to 300 of its more than 1,600 employees redundant amid concerns that it will record losses of up to £25m this year.

It said today that, as part of its restructure, it has proposed closing its Putney Hospital and the linked Southall Cattery and Clinic, both in London, and the Lockwood Equine Centre and South Godstone Animal Centre, both in Surrey.

In a statement, the charity said it was “actively exploring whether other welfare organisations may be able to take over some of these sites”.

Under the proposals, the roles of 111 animal collection officers and 32 inspectors are at risk of redundancy, although some will be able to apply for new roles.

The charity is also restructuring its management team. In a statement, it said “senior and middle management across the organisation will also be reduced by 20 per cent”.

Under the proposed closures, the RSPCA Wimbledon, Wandsworth and Sutton branch, which is run by a separate charity but works from the Putney Hospital, might also have to relocate.

The changes form part of a ten-year strategy, which includes creating a new role of animal rescue officer to work alongside inspectors, to refocus on rescuing animals suffering abuse and neglect.

Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the RSPCA, said that the site closures were to address an “imbalance in our services, with more of our operations located in the south and two of our four animal hospitals just a few miles apart in London”.

He said: “We plan to rebalance these services. We are confident we can still rescue, rehabilitate and treat animals in these areas through our network of other sites and through closer partnership working with other organisations.

“Sadly, we are now facing a £47m black hole over three years. The pandemic has made these changes very urgent if we are to protect our vital animal welfare activities for the future.

“Our unique rescue teams will continue to be central to our animal welfare work. We are the only charity that does this vital work. The remodelling work we are undertaking will enable us to better distribute resources to where they are most needed, while bringing our spending under control.

“We might look different, but our charity will continue to rescue and care for the animals that need us most.”

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