Thursday 23 October 2014

Cuts force Barnardos to repeat week-long closure

Published 10/12/2012 | 05:00

ALL Barnardos offices and services for children and families will be forced to close down for a week – the second time in 12 months – due to an escalating cash crisis at the charity.

Staff, who this year agreed to take a week's unpaid leave, have been told a similar closure is planned for August, the Irish Independent has learnt. This is due to repeated cuts in state funding over the past three years and also a drop in donations.

"We are in the process of looking at our budgets for 2013 and have already informed staff that we plan to close Barnardos services for one week again in August 2013," a spokesperson said.

"This cost-cutting measure is to ensure that we can continue to provide vital services to children and families and is in response to increased financial pressure due to repeated cuts to statutory income and a decline in voluntary income," he added.

Anyone trying to contact Barnardos by phone during the closure week will be advised to leave a message, or, in case of an emergency, to call a dedicated mobile number. All other queries will be responded to when the organisation resumes normal services.

Deficit

The decision to suspend services for one week last August saved some €400,000 and was the latest in a series of cut-backs, including slashing wages and making 14 staff redundant, mostly from administration.

The remaining staff agreed to a pay cut of more than 10pc and lost incremental pay increases. But the organisation is still forecasting a "sizeable deficit" this year, in the region of €600,000. Barnardos, which is headed by former Labour Party chef de cabinet Fergus Finlay, last year spent about €1.5m more than it took in.

Its total income was about €24m, but it spent more than €25m. The charity said its state funding had been slashed by about 15pc since 2009, representing a loss of about €1.5m last year.

Finlay is paid €111,711 by Barnardos. He contributes fees from board memberships, speaking engagements and other activities to a minimum of €25,000 a year back to Barnardos. The net cost of his salary to the charity in 2011 was approximately €88,000.

The charity said its decision to close its 40-odd offices for the second time was not taken lightly, with August chosen as it was the quietest time.

Irish Independent

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