PUBLIC SECTOR: RNID redundancies likely to save costs

PR staff at the Royal National Institute for the Deaf could face redundancies as the charity plans cuts of up to 20 staff in response to falling income.

CEO Dr John Low has already informed a batch of staff that they are likely to lose their jobs - though all decisions are currently undergoing a consultation process.

The RNID refused to confirm if press office staff were among those set for redundancy as decisions could be changed following consultation. But Low's letter to staff said each directorate has been asked to propose cost savings and that redundancies would take place only where there was no alternative.

The charity did confirm, however, that its services for deaf people would not be cut and that it hoped to avoid further job losses.

Low said in the letter that the charity was forced to slash spending for 2003/2004 by £1.2m as the economy had declined and the group's anticipated income had not materialised. He also said the charity's financial reserves were nearing the bottom of the limit agreed by trustees and charity commissioners.

The cuts mark an anxious time for a comms department that has enjoyed considerable campaigning success recently.

Last month the RNID's campaign for digital hearing aids to be made available to deaf people for free received a major boost when Alan Milburn announced £94m would be put aside for the devices.

The forthcoming Communications Bill is also expected to bring good news for deaf people. The RNID's proposal that 80 to 90 per cent of TV programmes feature subtitles by 2005 looks set to be adopted in law.

In December 2002 the Film Council announced plans to inject around £500,000 to increase subtitling on blockbusters and 'art-house' films following a similar PR and lobbying campaign by RNID.

Edited by Joe Lepper.

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