National Trust hands staff a pay rise days after raising membership costs

first_imgThe National Trust has been criticised by a former charities minister for handing its staff an inflation busting-pay rise – weeks after justifying a large hike in membership fees for millions of members by saying the extra money will be spent on conservation.National Trust workers voted to accept a 4.5 per cent pay offer, described by Prospect, their union, as a “ground-breaking” deal.Prospect said it had also agreed to hold further talks about creating a comprehensive “well-being strategy” for the Trust’s staff. Some 8,270 Trust staff will get a pay rise of up 4.5 per cent.The news came just weeks after the National Trust announced that it would increase fees for its six million members from March 1 by as much as 6.5 per cent, more than twice inflation of 2.5 per cent.Members over the age of 26 now pay £4.20 a year more, as individual membership rose to £69, while family membership went up £5.40 to £120 a year from March 1.  At the time of the announcement in January, the Trust issued a long statement justifying the increase by saying it would help to fund its biggest ever programme of conservation repairs, maintenance and improvements. No mention was made of the pay talks.Rob Wilson, a former Tory MP who was Charities minister from 2014 to 2017, said the Trust should have been upfront about the salary talks so members could decide whether to renew.He told The Daily Telegraph: “The reputation of charities is going through a pretty torrid time at the moment, so it is essential they are as transparent as possible to maintain the trust of the public. “When making increases in membership fees, it would be sensible for the sake of openness for the National Trust to declare all significant new costs that are relevant to the rise. “Having received all the information members can then decide whether to renew or not.”Justifying the rise in January, Sharon Pickford, the trust’s membership director, said the money would go “directly into caring for the 300 historic properties, 778 miles of coastline and 250,000 hectares of countryside across England, Wales and Northern Ireland” – and making no mention of the possible pay rise.She added:  “We are a charity, we don’t receive any direct Government funding and our conservation costs are increasing. We need help from our members to look after these amazing places. Last year, we spent the equivalent of more than £2 million a week on conservation work.“This included helping to fund big projects such as finishing the 30 year restoration and conservation of Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire, the continuing restoration of Knole in Kent and repairing the roof at the Vyne in Hampshire; plus restoring the famous gardens at Stowe in Buckinghamshire and Standen in West Sussex.“But it’s not just the big projects we need to fund; money raised through membership also helps fund improvements to facilities – such as car parks, cafes and delivering a programme of events for visitors.”The National Trust said the total pay reward, costing the charity £7.8million, was “entirely covered through productivity gains as well as commercial operations and retail”.A spokesman said the £12million raised by the March 1 membership fee increase would be “directed towards conservation and visitor experience, in which we will be spending an additional £22m this year”.The 4.5 per cent pay rise for staff was divided into a 2.5 per cent performance relates pay award and a 2 per cent statutory increase.Tina Lewis, Director of People and Legal Services at the National Trust, said that a “bigger proportion” of the pay rise will go on lower paid staff.She added: “To ensure we retain, recruit and reward great employees, we need to pay our people a competitive salary which reflects the current market rates.”last_img

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