Scouts Scotland has to make half its staff redundant to keep going

Scouts Scotland faces a projected loss of £1.5 millionScouts Scotland faces a projected loss of £1.5 million
Scouts Scotland faces a projected loss of £1.5 million
Consultation on redundancies officially under way

SCOUT chiefs in Scotland are set to make nearly half the staff at their headquarters and outdoor centres redundant in a restructuring exercise forced by coronavirus.

The move comes as a plea for cash support to keep open all 37 outdoor centres run by voluntary organisations and private firms in Scotland was turned down by the Scottish Government.

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With a projected loss of £1.5 million for this financial year, Scouts Scotland said it had begun a consultation with employees on plans which would involve about 30 of them going.

Chief executive Katie Docherty said: “At this stage we are trying to retain our centres but they would be on a very reduced skeleton staff and we are going to have to review things again later in the year.”

She said the centres were completely unable to operate under lockdown.

“If that continues it’s not sustainable in the long term to keep centres when we’re not allowed to have any young people at them.”

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Operators of all the outdoor centres in Scotland made a joint appeal to the Scottish Government last month for £7 million to keep all 37 centres open.

But they have new been told they will not receive the cash. Instead, the government has urged them to apply for loans.

The Evening News revealed earlier this month that Scouts Scotland centres at Bonaly and Longcraig, South Queensferry - often used for school residential trips - were at risk of never reopening after Covid-19. The government suggested the organisation’s reserves meant it did not qualify for support.

But Ms Docherty said those reserves, which stood at £1m before the crisis, were now disappearing quickly.

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She said: “Charities like ours started this with reserves but we’re now spending them and as soon as furlough scheme ends we will chew through them. We’re not going to close tomorrow - but if we don’t cut half our staff we will close a few months after that.”

She said if outdoor centres were allowed to reopen it would allow them a way forward.

“Before this happened we were a very financially sound charity; we didn’t need government funding or bailouts, we made our own money. The only reason we’re having financial trouble at the moment is the fact we’re shut down.”

And she warned: “In a year or two, or however long it is, and people want to start going on their school trips again none of these centres are going to exist - they will all be gone.”

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