Royal British Legion propose closing convalescent recovery services in bid to save £6m

The Royal British Legion is proposing to cut some services, including its convalescent seaside hotels, in a bid to save millions of pounds and prioritise money on the “most urgent calls for help”.

The UK’s largest armed forces charity said it was consulting with staff, including 153 who may face redundancy, as it looked to “refocus resource” as its welfare costs rise.

Nearly £6 million per year could be saved by ending four seaside “break centres” and an in-house “home maintenance service”, where fitters install items like grab rails in the homes of the vulnerable, a spokeswoman said.

“Both areas of support are available through other providers or more cost-effective means”, she added, saying any affected staff would be helped by a “significant support package”.

Since 2016, the number of people requiring help with housing and rent, money, mobility, mental health and well-being issues has jumped by a fifth, the charity said.

The average expenditure per household through the Legion’s immediate needs funding has also risen from £900 to £1,330.

The charity’s director general Charles Byrne (pictured) said: “We are seeing desperate people at their lowest ebb, people that can’t afford to pay their rent or feed their families, and we must prioritise our funds based on the most urgent calls for help.

“We are putting forward proposals to ensure the charity can address the challenges ahead of us.

“These include increasing resource in order to better personalise our support and build plans to fit each individual’s needs, bolstering our care services for older members of our community, and grant funding external organisations who are providing specialist or localised support which meet the needs of our community in a way the Legion cannot through our existing services.

“However, to start more of this work we do need to stop doing something else, which has led us to put forward proposals on our four hotels and home maintenance service.”

The four hotels are in Weston-super-Mare, Somerset, Bridlington, East Yorkshire, Southport, Merseyside, and Portrush, Co Antrim.

They are primarily used as convalescent recovery homes for personnel, or those struggling with a bereavement.

The charity, which has an annual turnover of £163 million, has around 1,700 employees and supports around six million people, including serving personnel, veterans, and their families.

Mr Byrne added: “We do not make these proposals lightly and we are well aware of the impact the proposals could have on our staff who have made hugely valuable contributions to the charity’s work.

“Over the coming months we will be ensuring our staff’s voices are heard and that they play a vital part in the decisions that we face.”

Copyright (c) PA Media Ltd. 2019, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) Royal British Legion / Youtube.

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