Age Action Latest Charity to Detail Cost Cutting Measures

Age Action Ireland is the latest charity to emerge as having imposed unpaid leave and pay cuts in a bid to keep its finances on track.

Cost-cutting measures at the charity included a 5pc pay cut and two weeks' unpaid leave for all staff, new figures for 2011 show.

This helped turn around the organisation's finances last year, as more and more charities take drastic steps to cut costs.

"The charity recognises that it is over-dependent on statutory funding for many of its programmes."

Age Action Ireland -- which provided services to 30,000 older people last year -- recorded a surplus of €231,536 in 2011 following a loss of €671,783 in 2010.

Along with the cuts which also included a pensions holiday for 2011, there was an increase in donations from €178,015 to €218,222 last year.

The revelation of the wage cuts and unpaid leave at Age Action comes after Barnardos and the Irish Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children confirmed that they have also cut costs.

Age Action chief executive Robin Webster said yesterday that "the first six months of 2012 have been very difficult".

"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. 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."

Mr Webster confirmed that the wage cuts, two weeks' unpaid leave and the pensions holiday accounted for savings of €88,000 in 2011.

He said the Age Action board decided earlier this year to discontinue the cost-cutting measures given the improvement in finances -- with the exception of the 5pc cut for staff earning more than €50,000 per annum, which relates to four people.

However, he added that the board could reinstate these measures should the situation change.

Mr Webster said that the largest single contributor to last year's turnaround was due to a change in the way the charity's finances are reported -- and this accounted for €400,000 of the positive swing.


He also stated that the three Age Action shops in Dublin, Monaghan and Dun Laoghaire recorded a surplus of €151,000 last year compared to just €20,000 in 2010.

The charity depends on 800 volunteers around the country to help it provide its services. The numbers of people directly employed last year dropped from 77 to 63, resulting in staff costs declining from €1.83m to €1.52m.

Age Action's income last year increased by 16pc from €2m to €2.4m, while its spend decreased over €560,000 to €2.18m.

Mr Webster added: "The board of Age Action, with the support of staff, have worked tirelessly to ensure that the organisation survives the current recession, and does so in a way that has as little impact as possible on our work with older people."