The disability equality charity Scope closed almost 10 per cent of its stores last year as it recorded a multimillion-pound drop in income for the second year in a row.
Driven in part by a fall in shop sales of £11m, the charity’s latest accounts, up to March 2021, show its total income fell by £7m to £34.1m.
In 2019/20, the charity was left with a deficit of about £4m after its income fell from £54m to £41m.
The charity said it reached more than 2.5 million disabled people and their families last year.
Legacy and grant income remained stable but was offset by the reduction in trading activity.
A total of 17 of Scope’s 207 shops were permanently closed, but its accounts show it plans to invest in new store openings.
It received £5m in total from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and a government grant.
The charity spent £11.6m on charitable activities, which took its total spending to £36.3m. The total costs for its more than 700-strong workforce was nearly £20m.
Mark Hodgkinson, chief executive of Scope, said: “While the pandemic has disrupted all our lives, it’s disabled people who’ve been hit hardest.
“I’m delighted how my colleagues across the organisation responded to the challenge and did everything they could to keep our much-needed frontline services running. Throughout this time we campaigned tirelessly for disabled people not to be forgotten by government and decision-makers.
“We moved to home and digital working, closed our shops, cancelled fundraising events, furloughed many colleagues and reduced overall working hours to save costs.
“Despite the challenges we’ve faced, we will continue to diversify our fundraising income, trial new products and services for disabled people and their families and invest in our digital infrastructure.”
Hodgkinson said the charity continued to increase its charitable spend, which it raised from 63p to 73p per £1 in 2020/21.
“And, although our retail stores were closed for over seven months of the year, they performed ahead of budget in the months when they were open, increasing turnover by two per cent pro rata,” he said.
“We continued to improve the quality of our retail portfolio in 2020, closing 17 of our less profitable stores and refitting and refurbishing one new store in Taunton.
“Further investment in new store openings, store relocations and a refit programme is planned, including new enhanced layouts and branding to maximise sales and provide a fully accessible experience in the community.
“We expect to continue to invest further from our reserves to respond to the pandemic and meet the needs of disabled people and their families now and in the future.”