Cancer Research UK has developed plans to become a leaner, more focused organisation following the devastating impact of COVID-19 on its fundraising income. The charity is making difficult decisions to significantly reduce how much it spends on beating cancer, its operations and the number of staff following an anticipated £300 million decline in fundraising income over the next three years, but is more focussed than ever on staying at the forefront of the global fight against cancer.
The charity plans to rebuild, adapting to the changed world and finding new opportunities, in order to continue to make an impact for people with cancer. There will be a continued focus on world-class research and shaping the UK’s science ecosystem, and a commitment to influencing and providing excellent information across cancer prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
- Read more from Cancer Research UK’s chief executive Michelle Mitchell on plans to rebuild and adapt.
But due to the projected drop in income, of £160 million this year (30%) and £300 million over three years, the charity needs to make tough choices about where and how it spends its money. There will be a greater focus on investing strategically for the future, whilst contracting in other areas amidst continued financial uncertainty.
Regrettably, Cancer Research UK will have to stop some programmes of work, reduce the amount or scope of other activities, and will be reducing the size of its workforce by 500 roles (circa. 24%), not including trading. The recruitment freeze that was put in place as an early response to COVID-19 will reduce the impact on existing staff, but sadly the charity expects to make 295-345 redundancies (14-17%) not including trading, within six months.
The charity also recently announced unavoidable cuts to its life-saving research. It plans to introduce a new research model designed to maximise impact from a lower level of spend, and will reduce its research spend to £250 million within four to five years – a cut of £150m from what the charity had planned to spend. But Cancer Research UK is doing everything it can to find more financial support, and is calling on the Government to help find a solution to this funding gap. The transition to a new funding model will be phased carefully to minimise the impact on the research community and existing portfolio. The commitment to maximising research impact remains, and the charity will continue to back the best researchers around the world.
The plan also outlines how Cancer Research UK will be more focused than it has ever been – doing less, but maintaining the highest quality in its work. It will deepen relationships with its supporters, so that thanks to their generosity it can return to growth as quickly as possible. The charity will continue to invest in digital transformation, basing its approach on how supporters want to engage, and will reach out to philanthropic individuals and organisations around the world to support its work.
Michelle Mitchell, chief executive at Cancer Research UK said: “We’re living through a global crisis unlike any other and, as it’s unfolded, it’s become clear that there’ll be a huge economic impact for years to come. As the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research, we must always focus on delivering our pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
“We made some very difficult decisions early on to mitigate the impact on our work; we moved all of our staff to 80% pay, furloughed 60% of staff, and cut £44 million from our research. But it is with a heavy heart that I can confirm we will have to reduce the size of our workforce, and make significant cuts to our research spend, as a result of the situation we find ourselves in. With such a significant shortfall in income, we cannot afford to keep spending at the same levels. But that doesn’t make those decisions any easier. We’re keeping our dedicated, hard-working staff up to date on developments as we have them, and their professionalism throughout this period has been hugely appreciated.
“I am confident that through our world-leading research, information and influencing, we will continue to make transformative steps in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer. This plan sets the direction for a new phase in the life of Cancer Research UK and will help us respond to the changed world, quicker than we’ve ever done before. We will emerge a streamlined charity, but still with a resolute drive for impact. Together, we will still beat cancer and realise our ambition to improve cancer survival to 3 in 4 by 2034.”
Cancer Research UK remains committed to ensuring at least 80p in every £1 raised is available to spend on beating cancer.