Cancer Research UK plans major cutbacks amid £300m income drop

Cancer Research UK (CRUK) is to cut 500 jobs and reduce its spending on research as it looks to tackle an anticipated £300m drop in fundraising income due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The charity said it is “making difficult decision to significantly reduce how much it spends on beating cancer, its operations and the number of staff” due to the loss of income.

The charity is projecting a £160m drop in income this year, with the fall totaling £300m over three years.

It says there will be a greater focus on investing “strategically for the future” and use of contractors in other areas “amidst the continued financial uncertainty”.

The restructuring plans involve reducing staff numbers by 500 not including trading, which is 24% of its workforce. This includes a recruitment freeze already in place as an early response to the coronavirus pandemic. A further 295-345 redundancies are expected not including trading, within six months.

Research spend will reduce to £250m within the next four to five years, which is a cut of £150m on its planned spend. The charity has pledged to implement this new funding model through a phased approach to “minimize the impact on the research community and existing portfolio”.

Investment in digital transformation will continue amid the cuts, adds the charity.

CRUK is calling on the government for support to address its funding gap. It will also “reach out to philanthropic individuals and organisations around the world” to support its work.

Huge economic impact

“We’re living through a global crisis unlike any other and, as it’s unfolded, it’s become clear that there’ll be a huge economic impact for years to come,” said CRUK chief executive Michelle Mitchell.

“We made some very difficult decisions early on to mitigate the impact on our work; we moved all of our staff to 80% pay, furloughed 60% of staff, and cut £44 million from our research. But it is with a heavy heart that I can confirm we will have to reduce the size of our workforce, and make significant cuts to our research spend, as a result of the situation we find ourselves in.

“With such a significant shortfall in income, we cannot afford to keep spending at the same levels. But that doesn’t make those decisions any easier.

“We’re keeping our dedicated, hard-working staff up to date on developments as we have them, and their professionalism throughout this period has been hugely appreciated.

“I am confident that through our world-leading research, information and influencing, we will continue to make transformative steps in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This plan sets the direction for a new phase in the life of Cancer Research UK and will help us respond to the changed world, quicker than we’ve ever done before. We will emerge a streamlined charity, but still with a resolute drive for impact.”

Earlier this month more than 60 scientists wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson calling for urgent help to halt a “catastrophic fall in charity research funding” due to the coronavirus outbreak.

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