Sunday, 29 May 2016

Union steps in as Centrepoint is hit by spending cuts

Staff facing pay cuts at prince's youth charity

Front line staff at one of the Duke of Cambridge’s favourite charities are facing redundancies and pay cuts, as it struggles with the fallout from Whitehall spending curbs.

Centrepoint, England’s biggest youth homelessness charity, began consulting staff about changes to pay and conditions last week. The process could also result in some of its front line staff being made redundant.

The move is a major blow for the high-profile charity which has been consistently championed by the Duke. It was the first charity he became patron of - in 2005 - and he has slept rough with Centrepoint volunteers to raise the profile of homelessness.

The charity held talks with union Unite on Wednesday. Matt Smith, Unite’s regional industrial officer, confirmed that up to 60 members of the charity’s front line staff had attended a meeting last week with the union about the charity’s proposals to cut pay, alter terms and conditions of employment and make possible redundancies.

He emphasised that the consultation was at an early stage and the union and its members were not in a dispute with the charity.

‘The view of our members is to make sure if there are any cuts that they are deemed necessary, that it is done fairly and the pain is redistributed through the whole organisation,’ he added.

There is some disquiet among Centrepoint front line staff who allege management will not face similar alterations to their pay and conditions - but Mr Smith said they may already have been affected by previous cuts and the union did not want anyone to be hit twice.

News of the consultation came as Green Party mayoral candidate Jenny Jones called on London mayor Boris Johnson to secure emergency funding to safeguard homelessness charities hit by cuts. She invited him to visit a Barnardo’s project providing support to families that will close in August after a £145,000 funding cut from umbrella body London Councils in 2011/12. She said London Councils’ cuts to homelessness services total £506,000 in 2011/12 and £134,000 in 2012/13.

A spokesperson for Centrepoint confirmed it was consulting with staff about ‘changes to its organisational structure’. She said the changes were ‘necessary to continue its commitment’ to delivering high-quality support to vulnerable young people. She said it would ‘not be appropriate’ to provide further information.

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