National Trust bosses laid off 1,800 staff as cash reserves increased

National Trust bosses laid off 1,800 staff last year… as its cash reserves increased to more than £400million

  • Accounts reveal charity increased its coffers by a third as it pressed on with cuts
  • Its unrestricted cash reserves rose from £317million to £410million by February 
  • Although above its own ‘minimum reserves target’ it made 1,767 staff redundant

The National Trust laid off nearly 1,800 staff and shut tea rooms last year in ruthless pandemic cost-cutting despite having cash reserves of more than £400million.

Latest accounts reveal that the charity increased its coffers by a third as it pressed on with the controversial cuts.

Its unrestricted cash reserves rose from £317million to £410million by February, £224million above its own ‘minimum reserves target’ of £186million set by trustees.

Yet it pressed on with its drive to make 1,767 staff redundant – one in seven of its 12,389 total – saving £53million in staff costs out of total savings of £94million.

The job cuts came despite the Trust receiving millions under the Government’s furlough scheme, leading to criticism from MPs

Of the redundancies, 845 were voluntary and 922 compulsory. The Trust also revealed 55 of its ‘food and drink offerings’ shut last year will remain permanently closed.

The job cuts came despite the Trust receiving millions under the Government’s furlough scheme, leading to criticism from MPs.

Covid forced hundreds of National Trust sites, in particular indoor venues such as stately homes, to be closed for months, and visitor numbers to those places allowed to reopen were limited. 

Membership numbers – a key part of the heritage charity’s funding – also dropped by 580,000 to 5.37 million. 

However, the Trust received £85.3million in government support, including £53.7million under the furlough scheme.

The charity said its income was £213million below target due to the pandemic but, with reserves up £93million in a year, clearly no financial crisis is looming.

Covid forced hundreds of National Trust sites, in particular indoor venues such as stately homes, to be closed for months, and visitor numbers to those places allowed to reopen were limited. (Pictured, Tyntesfield House, Wraxhall, North Somerset)

Andrew Murrison, Tory MP for South West Wiltshire, criticised the job cuts.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: ‘The trust has benefited massively from government support during the pandemic including through the furlough scheme but has responded by sacking staff despite finances that are [far] more robust than other organisations weathering the crisis.

‘The Trust’s senior management is clearly sweating its assets while stripping out layers of staff that undertake its core functions.’

The National Trust said the jump in its cash reserves came from ‘a few significant lump sums’ including a £66.3million insurance payout and ‘recovery in our stock market investments’.

The controversy over its cost-cutting measures comes after it was accused of turning ‘woke’ last year over a report into 93 of its properties’ links to colonialism and slavery in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests.

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