Staff left unpaid after Blackpool charity closes doors

Age UK
Age UK

The taxpayer will have to pick-up the bill after staff at a Blackpool charity missed out on redundancy pay and a full month’s wages when its shop closed down.

Workers at Age UK Blackpool and District say they were not paid money they were owed when the charity closed its doors due to financial troubles last month.

The charity had outgoings of £743,409 compared to an income of £722,904 last year, resulting in a loss of £20,505. This follows a £36,893 deficit in 2015.

Administrators at Leonard Curtis today confirmed staff had not been given redundancy pay nor the statutory notice period required – but insisted they would receive the money through the government’s Redundancy Payments Service.

The service pays out cash owed to laid-off workers if their employers are unable to pay.

A spokesman said: “We went to Age UK last week and helped staff fill out their redundancy payments claims, and they should receive the money within three to six weeks. They did not receive notice, but can claim for that which means they will receive more money.”

Former staff at Age UK Blackpool and District have branded the process ‘shambolic’.

One staff member said: “We have all lost our jobs, and what’s worse is nobody has been given any wages or redundancy pay. We’re having to appeal to the government for it.

“Many of us have worked for Age UK for many years and it was such a shock to be treated like this.

“There was no warning at all. People were crying and cursing. It was shambolic.

“I’ve lost about £2,000. That’s a lot of money when you’ve got a mortgage and live by yourself. I’m fuming.”

Another member of staff said: “I feel very let down by the management.

“Some of us will be worse affected than others. It’s not easy for people saying they would have to speak with their landlords because they would have no money for rent.

“Not only are staff shell-shocked, but our charity shops and the services we provide will be greatly missed by elderly people in Blackpool.”

The Cerberus Group - a debt management company acting on behalf of Age UK Blackpool’s administrators - has now confirmed that the charity has ceased to trade.

A spokesman said: “Despite the best endeavours of management, it is with regret that the valuable services provided to the local community can no longer be available through the company.”

They added that several other local service providers have now offered their support to elderly people who will lose out due to the closure.

Age UK Lancashire, N Vision, Blackpool Carers Centre and Blackpool Council have all stepped up to the mark to offer their services to vulnerable older people in the area.

In 2016, Age UK Blackpool provided household help to 389 elderly people across the Fylde coast. Volunteers contributed 11,336 hours of their time over the year.

A Leonard Curtis spokesman said: “The administrators are presently making arrangements to send a letter to all service users and carers to update them on the position and to offer contact names and numbers to assist them in gaining access to alternative services.”