Which? consulting on redundancies

The consumer rights charity has announced plans to close two divisions, which could put many jobs at risk

The consumer rights charity Which? is to make a significant number of staff redundant after announcing plans that could see two divisions of the charity close, Third Sector has been told.

In a statement, a Which? spokeswoman said that after carrying out an internal strategic review the charity was proposing to close Which? Mortgage Advisers and Which? Insurance Advisers.

And she said it would review the future of a subsidiary company, Which? Financial Services, which employs 131 people and made a loss of £2.7m in the year to 30 June 2018.

"We have also announced proposals designed to ensure that we have an appropriate organisational structure in place to evolve our business and deliver impact for consumers," the spokeswoman said.

"We have informed affected employees and will now enter into a period of consultation. No final decisions will be taken until the consultation process has taken place."

Which? did not confirm the number of employees who would be leaving the charity, but there are 786 staff, including those in its financial services subsidiary.

Because of the consultation, Which? said it would be "impossible and inappropriate" to give a definitive number of employees who could be affected.

According to the latest accounts for the year to 30 June 2018, total income for the charity was £100.5m, compared with £101.3m the previous year.

Expenditure fell from £105.1m to £104.2m, according to the accounts.

Which? has repeatedly faced controversy in recent years about the high level of senior executive pay at the charity.

Peter Vicary-Smith, who left his role as chief executive last year, received a salary of £494,000 in his final year at the charity, as well as a further £331,000 over two years.

The £331,000 paid to Vicary-Smith, which he will receive over the 2018/19 and 2019/20 financial years, is in connection with contractual employment and other termination payment obligations, the majority of which is pay in lieu of notice.

A Third Sector investigation in 2016 found that Which? was running a controversial long-term incentive plan for the senior executive team, which set aside £2.24m in bonuses.

The LTIP’s closure in 2017 saw compensation of £85,000 paid to senior staff members.

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