Jobs safe for 'foreseeable future' at Taunton's Charity Commission

Somerset County Gazette: Jobs safe for 'foreseeable future' at Taunton's Charity Commission Jobs safe for 'foreseeable future' at Taunton's Charity Commission

STAFF at Taunton’s Charity Commission have been told their jobs are safe for the foreseeable future.

The Government department, which regulates 160,000 charities, plans to relocate from its Tangier offices to County Hall until “at least 2018”.

The Commission has suffered 48% real-terms funding cut in the past five years, with the workforce down from 170 to 95, and must make further savings.

A spokeswoman said the Commission is cutting accommodation costs in Taunton and its other sites in London, Liverpool and Newport.

She added: “We’ll be adopting more flexible working options rather than closing sites.

“We’re committed to keeping the Taunton site in the medium term and there’ll be no real change in the functions we undertake from there.

“Closing our Taunton site is unaffordable and doesn’t make operational sense for us given the valuable work our staff deliver there.

“In the longer term, there may be some move of posts to other sites when staff in Taunton naturally move on, but those based there will continue in their role for the foreseeable future.

“We have a lease until 2016 in Taunton and are actively looking for accommodation in the town after that. We’re actively discussing with Somerset County Council options around sharing facilities to at least 2018.”

Lin Ashby, local chairman of the PCS union, said: “In the Commission we’re facing a massive funding crisis caused by the Government’s unrelenting austerity agenda.

“So, we have some sympathy for our senior managers and the options they’re facing.

“Their commitment to keeping the office open for the next five years or so has taken a weight off people’s minds.

“For the long-term, though, we have some prejudice against the South-West to overcome.

“We’ve been told that, because Taunton isn’t part of a ‘metropolitan hub’, it’s not a ‘reliable future recruitment environment’.

“We believe that’s nonsense. We’ll continue to make the case that we have top-quality people in this area.”

Taunton Deane MP Jeremy Browne welcomed the news that the Charity Commission in Taunton “is secure for the immediate future”, although he is concerned about its long-term future.

He said: “Taunton is expanding as a town and it’s important that we retain and attract prestigious employees.

“Taunton is an ideal location for an organisation like the Charity Commission – we have excellent transport links and rents are much lower than in London, while the attractions of living in Somerset appeal to staff.”

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