English Heritage to axe 90 staff as shake-up continues

Two-and-a-half years after it became a charity, the organisation says it needs to change its structure, as it aims to become financially independent by 2022-23
Caroline Parry
English Heritage is looking to cut about 90 middle-management roles as part of its ongoing strategy to become financially self-sufficient by 2022-23.

The organisation, which became a charity in April 2015, is looking to reduce its 2,300-strong workforce by “approximately 4%”, although it claims its team of experts, including curators and historians, will not be “significantly” reduced.

In a statement, English Heritage said the changes would not lead to the closure of any properties nor would they affect membership fees or admission charges at its major sites.

“We are confident that none of these changes will impact on our core duty to look after the collection of historic places in our care and to inspire people to value, visit and enjoy them,” said the statement. “It is precisely because of that commitment that we are making these difficult decisions.”

A consultation on the proposed changes was under way as Museums Journal went to press. It will close on 15 December. If the plans go ahead, the cuts will be made across several departments between mid-January and the end of March.

Taking stock

Kate Mavor, the chief executive of English Heritage, says: “In the life of every organisation, there are always moments when it is wise to stop and take stock. It is better to do this when you are in a position of strength, than of weakness.

“We’ve had a tremendous first three years, with record visitor numbers, but to ensure we become financially independent, we need to change how we are organised. These changes will involve some difficult decisions, but they are vital if we are to continue to look after the sites in our care and tell their stories to this and future generations.”

English Heritage, which looks after the 420 sites that form the National Heritage Collection, was split into two separate organisations in 2015 as part of a government spending review. Historic England, which looks after the historic environment, remains a public body.

English Heritage received a one-off £80m investment from the government to spend on the National Heritage Collections. It is using £52m for urgent repair and conservation work, while the rest is being invested in new exhibitions, visitor facilities and presentation and interpretation at some smaller sites.

In its 2016-17 annual report, the charity reported an income of £103m, up from £95.4m the previous year and ahead of its launch target of £99m. The figure was fuelled by strong demand for membership, which hit 918,000, and admission fees. Visitor figures at its staffed sites reached 5.9 million in 2016.

English Heritage is due to report to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport in 2018 on how it is performing against its launch plan and how it is spending its government grant. Its annual report reveals that English Heritage has exceeded its expenditure targets on administration, investing in the organisation and conservation work.

The launch of its first crowdfunding appeal marks English Heritage’s attempts to seek alternative sources of funding. The initiative aims to raise £25,000 towards the restoration of Shropshire’s Iron Bridge – at £3.6m, it is a major conservation project for the charity.

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