Brodie Castle, managed by the National Trust for Scotland

Job cuts planned at National Trust for Scotland

Rob Picheta, 17.01.2018
Up to 79 front line workers could be affected by reorganisation
79 front line workers could be affected by planned job cuts at National Trust for Scotland (NTS) properties across the country, the charity has said.

NTS would create 63 new roles to replace around 79 set to be made redundant, and the organisation said it would encourage those affected to apply for these posts.

The trust said that the changes would reduce the amount of administrative tasks carried out at properties and focus teams more on visitor services. It dismissed concerns expressed by the Prospect trade union about “any changes that would lead to staff doing the same job, day to day, at a lower grade”.

Patrick Duffy, the trust’s chief operating officer, said: “If we are to offer visitor experiences that meet today’s and tomorrow’s expectations, we need to have the right combination of skills in the teams running properties. In short, we have to make changes.”

But Ian Perth, Prospect’s negotiations officer, said: “Our members are concerned that the trust properties are increasingly run with a ‘for profit’ business-like mentality”.

He added: “For many, the NTS is far more than just an organisation, its properties are often woven into the fabric of rural communities, so any staff reductions in front line properties could be devastating for local economies.”

NTS said the plans, which would be implemented from February following 30 days of consultation, are needed in part to free up money for conservation projects, which it expects to cost £47m over the next decade.

It also said that, while NTS membership numbers have increased by 50,000 in the past two years and currently stand at 380,000, “the age and social profile of the existing members mean there is an inbuilt prospect of future decline unless the trust can widen its appeal".

The move is a continuation of a reorganisation at the charity that began in 2016 when 90 staff, mainly at its Edinburgh headquarters, were placed at risk of redundancy.

Perth said that NTS chief executive Simon Skinner had “clearly outlined that the trust had no intention to cut numbers at properties” at that time, and that this “gave comfort to our members and their families”.

But NTS disputed this claim in a statement, saying that Skinner “did at that time confirm that the new regional leadership would be expected to adjust their operational structures and practices in due course.”

The charity employs 557 year-round employees, alongside 580 seasonal employees and 135 casual workers. It has over 3,700 volunteers. Its annual income reduced by £2.5m to £50.5m in 2017, while spending increased to £54.6m.