The heart charity is the latest organisation to warn of significant redundancies as a result of Covid-19
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) has warned it may have to cut hundreds of jobs as it battles with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.
The charity has begun a consultation with staff that could see up to 300 roles go.
The coronavirus pandemic has led to an expected 50% drop in the BHF’s annual income, largely due to the closure of its 750 shops for four months and cancellation of most fundraising events.
The sudden fall in income will force the charity to cut support for new research by about £50 million this year, and has warned it could take many years for its funding to return to pre-pandemic levels.
Dr Charmaine Griffiths, the BHF’s chief executive, said: “The coronavirus crisis is the single biggest challenge we’ve faced in our 60-year history and, despite the tireless commitment of our BHF team and supporters, threatens our life-saving work for the coming years.
“In addition to the health impact of the crisis the financial shockwaves from this will be profound, threatening scientific progress and the discoveries that ultimately transform diagnosis, care and support for patients. We’ve left no stone unturned in finding new ways of generating income and reducing costs, but unfortunately, we must consider reducing our activities and the size of our workforce as we chart our recovery.
“This has been an incredibly difficult decision and it will be even harder for those people who may leave our BHF team. We deeply regret the impact this may have on those colleagues who are affected and will explore every avenue to minimise the number of job losses, including through the re-allocation of roles within the organisation.”
The charity has said it has taken numerous steps to mitigate the costs of the crisis and its impact on people with heart and circulatory diseases. It has launched new fundraising appeals, utilised the government’s job retention scheme, and negotiated with landlords and suppliers to reduce costs. Other measures include a recruitment freeze and the cancellation of the annual, inflationary pay rise. However, these measures have not been enough to weather the crisis and it now expects to consult staff on the approach to refocus, which will take several months.
The BHF believes the government urgently needs to provide more support to charities and UK medical research through the crisis. With the Association of Medical Research charities and its 150 members, it is calling on the Prime Minister to establish a Life Sciences Charity Partnership Fund which would match charity-funded research over the next three years.
Dr Griffiths added: “The steps we’re taking will go some way to safeguard the BHF’s life-saving work, but the cliff-edge fall in our research funding will have devastating consequences that ultimately mean patients suffer. The stakes are far higher than the future of any individual charity. We’d urge the Prime Minister and government to recognise that an investment in maintaining current levels of charity-funded research is an investment in UK science, the careers of thousands of talented researchers, and the future treatment of people with heart and circulatory diseases. Failing to make this investment could be hugely damaging to the future health of the nation.”