Victim Support Scotland staff at risk of redundancy 'lodge grievances'

David Sinclair, the charity's head of communications, is one of at least two employees to have taken this action, according to The Herald newspaper

Victim Support Scotland office in Edinburgh
Victim Support Scotland office in Edinburgh

At least two employees have reportedly lodged grievances against Victim Support Scotland after being told they were at risk of being made redundant.

VSS is in consultation with six senior staff members – including Jim Andrews, chief executive of the charity’s Victims Fund, and David Sinclair, its head of communications – over plans to make their posts redundant, according to its acting chief executive, Susan Gallagher.

One former volunteer said the charity was in crisis.

The Herald newspaper reported that Sinclair was one of at least two employees to have lodged grievances relating to the prospective redundancy.

It also reported that the charity’s chair, Bob Leitch, and vice-chair, Susan Mallinder, resigned last year.

The Scottish government, which provides about £4m to VSS each year for the provision of victim services, recently commissioned an external review of the charity, which will be carried out by the accountancy firm KPMG and is expected to be completed this summer, according to a government spokeswoman.

VSS had been expected to administer the distribution of new funds, understood to amount to £1.2m a year, raised by a surcharge on fines imposed by courts, but the fund is believed to have been put on hold while the government’s review is carried out.

The charity was first informed about this latest review in autumn 2014, having undergone previous reviews in 2003 and 2007.

Following reports about the redundancies and governance review, Iain Stuart, a former volunteer of the charity, wrote in a letter to The Herald  that he was not surprised the charity was "publicly in crisis".

"After seven years as a volunteer with the organisation, I quit last year after becoming hopelessly disenchanted with the way it operates," he said. "I am delighted that, at long last, there is to be an external review of the charity."

Gallagher said in a statement: "We are in the process of consultation with six staff who might be at risk of redundancy. We are hopeful that some of these might result in redeployment into the front line where this is appropriate."

She also told Third Sector: "There is no link with the consultation exercise we are carrying out and the governance review."

She declined to comment on reports that employees had lodged grievances and staff affected by the consultation had been offered the minimum statutory redundancy terms.

Commenting on last year’s trustee resignations, she said: "Over the course of the past year, as in many charitable organisations, board members have completed their terms of office and have resigned, and new board members have come on board. Two executive members have resigned over the course of the past year and one person’s term of office ended.

"The support we offer people affected by crime is why we exist. The board of VSS and the management team are working effectively together to ensure this continues to remain our focus and that we continue to deliver our charitable aims."

A spokeswoman for the Scottish government said that it conducted governance reviews in order to provide assurance that bodies in receipt of significant amounts of public funds had appropriate governance structures, management arrangements and financial arrangements in place.

"The review was commissioned through the usual Scottish government procurement processes," she said.

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