National Trust will axe nearly 1,300 jobs as it battles Covid
8th October 2020

National Trust will axe nearly 1,300 jobs as it battles impact of Covid

  • Charity said its making 514 compulsory redundancies following a consultation  
  • A further 782 people have taken voluntary redundancy in attempt to save £59m
  • Trust has lost millions after having to shut houses and gardens due to Covid

The National Trust today announced it will axe nearly 1,300 jobs as it battles the impact of Covid.  

The organisation, which warned in July that it might have to make 1,200 people redundant to deal with the fallout from the pandemic, has said it is making 514 compulsory redundancies following a consultation.

A further 782 people have taken voluntary redundancy, as part of cuts to jobs that will save around £59 million a year.

The National Trust has said it is making 514 compulsory redundancies following consultation

The Trust is also saving around £41 million in annual costs from areas such as reducing travel and office costs and cutting marketing and print spend in favour of digital communications.

The coronavirus crisis hit almost every aspect of income for the conservation and heritage charity, which has 5.6 million members, shutting all of its houses, gardens, car parks, shops and cafes, and stopping holidays and events.

Today’s figures are in addition to 162 people who were previously told they were being made redundant as £124 million of projects were halted or deferred – and who bring the total job losses linked to the pandemic to 1,458.

The National Trust said that it had halved the number of compulsory redundancies it had planned to make following consultation.

And changes to the plans have seen jobs in everyday maintenance and curatorial roles retained, along with roles focused on helping children learn, the charity said.

The Trust said it had already saved millions of pounds through freezing recruitment, drawing on reserves, borrowing, stopping or deferring projects and reducing marketing, travel and office costs.

Director general Hilary McGrady thanked staff, volunteers and members who shared their views on the proposals, saying the consultation had enabled the Trust to adapt its plans while still making the savings it required.

She said: ‘This is a very painful time for so many organisations, businesses and communities. The Trust is only as strong as it is because of its people – our staff, volunteers and supporters.

‘No leader wants to be forced into announcing any redundancies, but coronavirus means we simply have no other choice if we want to give the charity a sustainable future.

‘We have exhausted every other avenue to find savings, but sadly we now have to come to terms with the fact that we will lose some colleagues.

‘We will do all we can to support those who are leaving, and others affected by these significant changes.

‘In making these changes now, I am confident we will be well-placed to face the challenges ahead, protecting the places that visitors love and nature needs, and ensuring our conservation work continues long into the future.’

The 514 compulsory redundancies include 62 hourly-paid staff, while the 782 voluntary redundancies include 146 hourly-paid staff.

Ms McGrady said the National Trust would continue to open as many places as possible while the UK battled Covid-19 and Government restrictions remained in place.

‘The places and things the National Trust cares for are needed now more than ever, and will continue to play an important role as our nations recuperate and recover their spirit and wellbeing,’ she said.

‘Our focus will remain on the benefit we deliver to people, every day. We must now focus on emerging from this crisis in a strong position.’

The Trust’s Powis Castle in Wales, which has been pictured as part of a campaign highlighting autumn scenery 

General secretary of the Prospect union Mike Clancy said it was a huge number of job losses, but work from reps and officials had meant the level of compulsory redundancies was lower than it might have been.

He said: ‘The long-term prospects for National Trust and access to its properties and lands are hugely important both to employees and to the cultural health of the nation.

‘The current plan, while devastating for those who are losing jobs they love, is a reasonable way to move forward, minimising job losses while hopefully safeguarding the National Trust’s future.’

The charity was forced to deny it was dumbing-down in August when plans emerged to sack its entire top tier of art experts as it reduced the number of specialist curators from 111 to around 80. 

It came as an internal document suggested the trust plans to ‘dial down’ its role as a ‘major national cultural institution’.

But the director general dismissed the idea of the organisation being ‘dumbed down’, saying she understands why staff are ‘anxious’ but the trust ‘simply cannot afford to keep doing everything’ the same way as before.

Hilary McGrady insisted the briefing is only ‘in draft’ and has been changed multiple times since being leaked.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘The National Trust has been hit extraordinary badly by Covid-19, think we’re already on record of saying we will lose £200million this year and we are absolutely expecting to be trading well below our normal standards for at least another one if not two years.

‘So the changes that are really regrettably, and I have to really be clear this morning, we are in the middle of a legal consultation process. I am hugely, hugely sad that we are having to propose losing any staff.

‘I value every one of them, and we’re in a really difficult position that we’re in the middle of this consultation when this internal document, which was really genuinely only meant for our eyes, it’s in draft and has been changed many times since the version that you would have seen, that is was leaked.’ 

The Trust faced a backlash last month when it linked Sir Winston Churchill’s home to slavery and colonialism as part of an ‘audit’ in response to the Black Lives Matter movement

The Trust faced another backlash last month when it linked Sir Winston Churchill’s home to slavery and colonialism as part of an ‘audit’ in response to the Black Lives Matter movement. 

Chartwell in Kent was among almost 100 properties documented in a project that led to claims the charity was smearing key figures from British history.

The trust has insisted it does not want to censor history, but that it has a duty to ensure its supporters and visitors know about the origins of some of its properties.

But Lucy Trimnell, a Conservative councillor in Somerset, wrote online that she would cancel her family’s membership, adding that she ‘cannot support the naming and shaming of innocent families who left these properties to the custodianship of the National Trust’.

The trust said the year-long audit was ordered before the Black Lives Matters protests, when a statue of Edward Colston was toppled from a plinth and thrown into a harbour in Bristol because of his role in the city’s slave trade.

The National Trust, which has 5.6million members and 500 historic sites around the UK, said it commissioned the report last September.

The audit details properties’ links to slave traders but also to families whose plantations used slave labour, and who were paid compensation after the slave trade was abolished.

It said 29 trust properties had links to successful compensation claims, including Glastonbury Tor in Somerset and Blickling Hall in Norfolk.

The report also highlights figures involved in Britain’s colonial history, including author Kipling and historian Thomas Carlyle, whose former homes are now run by the trust.

Chartwell in Kent was among almost 100 properties documented in a project that led to claims the charity was smearing key figures from British history 

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