Cutbacks at charity leads to turnaround in finances

A series of costcutting measures at Age Action Ireland, including a 5% pay cut and two weeks’ unpaid leave for all staff, helped towards turning around the organisation’s finances last year.

Figures show that Age Action Ireland, which provided services to 32,000 elderly people last year, recorded a surplus of €231,536 in 2011 following a loss of €671,783 in 2010 — a positive swing of €903,319.

Along with the cost-cutting measures, which included a pensions holiday for 2011, an increase in donations from €178,015 to €218,222 also helped to bring the organisation back into the black.

The introduction of the wage cuts and unpaid leave last year follows Barnardos and the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children this month confirming they have put in place their own cost-cutting measures.

Age Action chief executive Robin Webster said that “the first six months of 2012 have been very difficult for Age Action”.

“The charity recognises that it is over-dependent on statutory funding for many of its programmes. This leaves it at risk if these are cut,” he said.

“Fundraising in the current climate is very difficult. The five-year sponsorship arrangement for our Care & Repair programme is also due to end next year and we are searching for a new sponsor. Likewise, our Getting Started computer training programme is also seeking a sponsor.”

The programmes are two of the charity’s largest, with Irish Life & Permanent donating €225,000 to Care & Repair per annum while the Department of Communications last year sponsored the Getting Started programme to the tune of €204,829.

Mr Webster said: “At the moment, Age Action is working very hard in the hope of breaking even in 2012. However, that will depend on the degree to which statutory grants and fundraising are affected by the recession.”

He confirmed the wage cuts, two weeks’ unpaid leave, and the pensions holiday accounted for savings of €88,000 in 2011.

Mr Webster said the Age Action board took a decision earlier this year to discontinue the costcutting measures given the improvement in finances, with the exception of the 5% cut for four staff earning more than €50,000 per annum.

The board reserves the option of reinstating these measures should the situation change, he said.

Mr Webster said the largest single contributor to last year’s turnaround was a change in the way the charity’s finances are reported; this accounted for €400,000 of the positive swing. Mr Webster also stated that the three Age Action shops, in Camden St, Dublin; Monaghan, and Dun Laoghaire, recorded a surplus of €151,000 last year compared with just €20,000 in 2010.

The figures show Age Action’s income increased by 16% last year, from €2m to €2.4m, while its spend decreased by over €560,000 to €2.2m.

The charity depends on 800 volunteers to provide its services, while the number of people directly employed last year fell from 77 to 63, resulting in staff costs declining from €1.83m to €1.52m.


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