Scope sold services for £23m, its new accounts reveal

As part of its Everyday Equality strategy, the charity sold its regulated and day services to Salutem Healthcare early last year

Scope's annual report
Scope's annual report

- This article was clarified on 3 January 2019; see final paragraph

The disability charity Scope sold its regulated and day services to a private sector provider for £23m, its latest accounts show.

The figure, which had previously not been made public, was contained in Scope's annual report and accounts for the year to 31 March 2018, filed with Companies House last month.

Almost 1,600 staff transferred to the private company Salutem Healthcare early last year as part of the deal, which affected services at 51 locations in England and Wales.

The annual report describes the sale, which was part of the charity's five-year Everyday Equality strategy, as "a courageous and key moment in Scope's history".

The report, which was published just before Christmas, also reveals that Scope made a profit of £14m on the sale of its London offices and other properties.

It now rents smaller premises at Here East, part of the Olympic Park in Stratford, east London.

Scope's income for the year ending 31 March 2018 was £94.6m, compared with £97.8m in the previous year.

Its income included £58.7m on continuing operations and £35.8m on discontinuing operations.

The latest accounts do not include the £23m received from Salutem, which was finalised after the end of the financial year.

But it does include £14m for the sale of its office and other properties.

Fundraising income declined by £0.9m to £19.3m, which the report attributes to "a significant decline in donor numbers taken forward from 2016/17". It adds: "This was offset by reduced expenditure."

The charity now employs 770 staff, compared with 2,136 a year ago.

The salaries of five staff exceeded £100,000. Three employees, including former chief executive Mark Atkinson, received additional payments totalling £62,000 for staying in post during the first phase of the new strategy.

A spokeswoman for the charity said: "The board of trustees felt it critical to ensure continuity of three critical members of the leadership team during the long transition process and agreed a retention payment on completion of the sale and transfer.

"All three executive members were retained accordingly and a smooth transition of our services and our customers was achieved as a result."

Atkinson left in October to become chief executive of Action on Hearing Loss. He will be succeeded by Mark Hodgkinson.

The accounts show that Scope made redundancy payments of £394,366 and settlement agreement payments of £43,410.

They also reveal that 79 per cent of the charity’s workforce is female and it has a gender pay gap of 11 per cent. The report says this figure "demonstrates the need to take prompt and robust action. We will do so even though the gap is below the national average of 18 per cent."

The charity spent £282,978 on advice from PA Consulting, whose head of consulting sectors, Andrew Hooke, is a Scope trustee. The charity was charged a further £180,000 by the company for the secondment of Kerrie O’Connor to Scope to lead work on the overall change programme for Scope's five-year strategy.

The charity paid the PR advisory firm Eden Stanley £116,649 for audience insight work, the accounts show. Scope trustee Joe Barrell is managing director of Eden Stanley.

The Scope spokeswoman said the appointments of PA Consulting and Eden Stanley were undertaken in line with governance procedures and Charity Commission guidelines.

She said PA Consulting went through a full procurement process to be listed as a preferred supplier, and Eden Stanley was appointed to carry out its work after a competitive tender and referred for decision to the board of trustees.

In his chair's report, Andrew McDonald describes 2017/18 as a "transformational year".

He writes: "Staying as we were was no longer good enough. We needed to act in order to achieve greater impact and reach more people, to focus our energies and resource towards what mattered most. We needed to create an organisation fit for the future."

Scope, which opened its first furniture and electrical shop in Northampton this year, has 220 shops employing 571 staff.

- The paragraph about the fall in fundraising income was updated to make it clear that the charity acquired fewer donors in 2016/17 than had been planned.

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