June 26, 2020 3.27 pm This story is over 48 months old

Age UK Lindsey lays off half of staff to rescue charity

The coronavirus crisis has taken its toll

Lincolnshire charity Age UK Lindsey is making over half of its 126 staff redundant and closing two key services in order to survive the financial crisis caused by COVID-19.

The independent charity based in Horncastle was established over 30 years ago and serves an area with a population of over 400,000 people. It provides services for older people in the areas of East and West Lindsey and North Lincolnshire.

Since lockdown restrictions were implemented in March, Age UK Lindsey’s 10 shops and paid for services have lost over £250,000 of income. The charity has received only minor financial aid from Age UK nationally and has no ongoing local government support.

Age UK Lindsey has since said it has had to make some “difficult and extremely regrettable” decisions or risk going under altogether. 78 paid staff have been made redundant, the majority of whom worked part-time on varying hours. Those remaining have taken pay cuts on reduced hours. 

This comes after The Guardian reported that one in 10 UK charities are facing bankruptcy by the end of the year “as they struggle to cope with a £10bn shortfall” in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some services closing

With immediate effect the charity will stop its Independence at Home Service (domestic cleaning and gardening), which ran across both East Lindsey and West Lindsey for almost 400 older people.

It will also end its Community Transport Service, which has operated in North Lincolnshire for many years and helped almost 100 clients complete more than 10,000 journeys per year.  Volunteers have been informed that the service will no longer be running.

The charity will also close its loss making charity shop in Gainsborough.

None of these services have been operating during the pandemic. However, some of the charity’s shops have now reopened, including in Spilsby and Market Rasen this week, while services including its flagship Information and Advice Service will continue.

Chief Executive Officer Andy Storer said: “Since the end of March our income has dropped to virtually nil and the charity simply did not have the reserves required to fund the restart of the services in the hope that clients would return.

“All but a handful of Age UK Lindsey’s employees had been furloughed since March and those remaining have taken pay cuts on reduced hours to keep the remaining vital services running.

“It is with a very, very heavy heart that these decisions have been made and we understand the impact they may well have on some older people right across our area. However, they are a reflection of the stark choices we are faced with as our funding streams have been severely impacted upon.”

Michele Jolly, CEO at independent charity Age UK Lincoln & South Lincolnshire, said: “ We are deeply saddened by the news today from our close brand partners Age UK Lindsey. All Age UK’s operate as independent charities and the actions of one does not necessarily reflect the intentions of another as each delivers its services independently.

“Age UK Lincoln and South Lincolnshire remains strong and delivering services to people in our area. We are in conversations with Age UK Lindsey to see where we can support them at this difficult time”