£47 million black hole in RSPCA's accounts means they must make cuts
The RSPCA has announced a proposal to close Southall Cattery as part of a restructuring programme which they say has been acculturated due to Covid-19 related financial difficulties.
It is one of four centres which faces the axe this September including Putney Animal Hospital which currently operates as a linked facility to the Southall location. The centres offer veterinary care to pet owners at discounted rates and often help people on benefits who might otherwise be unable to pay for treatment. Cats being cared for at the Southall Cattery would be moved to other RSPCA animal centres. The Southall facility has reportedly treated over 12.000 cats and performed over 2,000 neuterings since 2017. If the proposals go ahead, the RSPCA would explore other options for the building, including seeing if another animal welfare organisation could take over the site.
The animal charity started a consultation this week with staff and the union over a proposal to refocus activities which will mean losing up to 300 roles and closing the four sites. This is required because of a £47 million shortfall in their accounts.
The RSPCA operates four hospitals nationally, two of which are just a few miles apart in London. The proposal has been put forward to close Putney Hospital and leave Harmsworth Hospital, which they say is in an area of higher need, open. Animals from the charity’s rescue teams will continue to get the emergency care from Harmsworth and local vet practices, as happens in other areas of the country where the RSPCA does not operate hospitals.
As part of this restructure, the RSPCA is actively exploring whether any other welfare organisation would be able to take over the running of some of these services.
John Kerslake, RSPCA Director of Field Operations, said, “These proposals will be upsetting and the decision has not been made lightly, but we must bring our spending in line with our income if we are to continue to help animals most in need.
“The RSPCA is facing a £25 million deficit this year, which has been made much worse by the coronavirus pandemic, rising to a potential £47m black hole over the next three years if action is not taken now.”
The proposed changes formed part of a 10-year strategy but they say financial pressure of the coronavirus crisis means urgent action needs to be taken now.
Mr Kerslake said, “Coronavirus has accelerated the need for change but we have been reviewing our operations in line with our new, ten-year strategy which will refocus our activities where we can be the most effective in helping animals.
“What is being proposed is to ensure we can be sustainable for the future and can continue to rescue animals most in need.”
Mr Kerslake added, “We have more sites in the South, concentrated in London and the surrounding area, than other parts of England and Wales and we have another animal hospital a few miles away across London. We are confident that animals brought in by inspectors in this area can get the emergency care they need at Harmsworth Hospital or private vet practices. We are also actively exploring if other animal welfare organisations may be able to take over the services.
“I know this will be distressing news for all those staff and volunteers who have made such a difference to the lives of animals and those in the community who have supported Putney and Southall.
“But we have to take action now so that the RSPCA is still around to rescue animals from cruelty and neglect in the future.
“This proposal is no reflection on staff and I would like to thank all those who have worked and volunteered at Putney and Southall for their incredible dedication over the years.”
July 1, 2020