The National Trust may close up to 170 shops and cafes as it faces a £200 million loss in the wake of coronavirus lockdown, putting some 1,200 jobs at risk.
The heritage charity, which has 5.6 million members, has been forced to close its houses, gardens and shops for most of the crucial spring/summer 2020 period.
Director General, Hilary McGrady, told staff that every other means of plugging the financial loss had been considered before proposing job cuts. Whilst no National Trust properties are scheduled for closure, there are serious concern that it’s “only a matter of time” before this happens as well.
The Trust has already stopped or deferred £124 mn of projects and ordered a recruitment freeze.
The trust hopes to save £100m – almost a fifth of its annual spend – through changing the way it operates and reducing its payroll and budgets. It currently employs 9,500 salaried workers and laying off 1,200 of those would save £60mn.
Cuts to staff caring for houses, gardens and collections would be limited as it seeks to focus on protecting cultural heritage.
Ms McGrady said there would be a shift from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to properties, with reviewed opening hours at some and, in some cases, a pre-booked guided tour system for visits.
Mike Clancy, from the Prospect union, said: “At the moment there are no plans for National Trust to close whole properties but they are shutting ‘unprofitable’ shops and cafes and the worry is that it’s only a matter of time. Once jobs are lost and assets are closed it is very hard to recover them.”