Science Museum Group announces redundancy plans

Job losses continue as Birmingham Museums Trust confirms its workforce will shrink by a quarter
Covid-19 redundancy
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Geraldine Kendall Adams
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The Science Museum in London is one of the organisation's five sites
The Science Museum in London is one of the organisation's five sites Science Museum Group

The Science Museum Group (SMG) has become the latest cultural institution to announce plans to downsize in the wake of the Covid crisis.

The organisation, which oversees five museums, will conduct a consultation next month on the “changes that need to be made” to ensure it survives the financial impact of the pandemic.

In a statement, SMG director and chief executive Ian Blatchford said: “Despite significant cost-saving measures already taken and others planned, we have no choice but to reduce the scale of our organisation.”

He said work was currently underway to “determine the level of payroll savings required - and therefore the number of roles that will be impacted”.

He added: “This is a step we take with huge reluctance; recognising the pain it will cause colleagues who contribute so deeply to our mission. This concern will inform our approach to this difficult period, including giving advance notice of what will be a phased process and constructive engagement with colleagues and our recognised trade unions.”

Blatchford said the SMG had been “hit very hard” by the pandemic, losing around £23m in expected revenues this year from income-generating activities such as corporate events, licensing, fundraising and retail.

Those revenue streams are expected to remain “severely depressed” for some years, he said. “With ongoing restrictions and the deep impact on international tourism, it will be several years before we can return to a position of strength.”

Blatchford said: “While the road to recovery may be long, we will remain focused on the great benefit we bring to our audiences: to the wellbeing of communities across the country; to the wider economy and tourism industry; and through inspiring future generations of scientists, technicians and engineers whose vital importance in addressing global challenges has been so starkly illustrated by this terrible pandemic.”

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Meanwhile Birmingham Museums Trust confirmed this week that it is cutting the equivalent of 48 full-time roles, representing 25% of its total workforce.

In a statement, the trust said: “It is regrettable that we have had to lose any of our hardworking employees, but like many arts organisations we have had to make some very tough decisions to adapt to the challenging situation we face and ensure the charity’s long-term survival beyond this crisis.

"We want to thank everyone who has been involved in the consultation process, including those colleagues whose jobs have sadly been affected. We wish them all the best for the future during what we know is a very uncertain time."

The organisation said that, thanks to new income-generating initiatives and a fundraising campaign that raised more than £45,000, the job losses were not as deep as expected.

It said: “Alongside reducing staff numbers, we have made additional savings across all areas of our organisation. This means we are now in a stronger position to survive the pandemic over the coming months.”

The Museums Association is capturing data on job losses through its Redundancy Tracker. If you would like to report redundancies, please tell us using the anonymous online form

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