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Save the Children UK’s income rose to £307m in centenary year

London | 20 July 2020 | Save the Children

Save the Children UK increased its income by £4m to £307m last year as it made up for a decline in government funding by securing more money from other donors.  It helped the Save the Children movement to work with 38 million children in more than 100 countries.

In the UK, the charity received £17m less from the government in 2019 than in the previous year after temporarily withdrawing from bids for new funding during a Charity Commission inquiry that has since been completed.

However, it received £8m more from the United Nations for vital work in Yemen and Ethiopia; £8m from the global fund Education Cannot Wait for children who fled conflicts in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Sudan for Uganda; and £7m from the Disasters Emergency Committee  for Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the survivors of a cyclone in Mozambique and a tsunami in Indonesia.

Income from individuals fell slightly by £1m to £73m but corporate donations went up by £5m to £20m. Among these were £9m from GSK, the pharmaceutical company, including funding for a flagship programme in Nigeria to reduce deaths from infectious diseases.

Charles Steel, the interim chair of Save the Children UK, said: ‘This strong financial performance in our centenary year allowed us to protect children in conflict, provide education in emergencies and launch a battle to counter pneumonia, the biggest infectious killer of children under the age of five.’

Kevin Watkins, the chief executive, said the rise in income had put Save the Children in a better position to respond to the onset of coronavirus.

The charity is currently losing more than £2m a month of income, mainly from shop closures and the cancellation of fundraising events, and about 200 of its 900 UK staff have been furloughed for various spells since March.

However, Save the Children has scaled up its UK work with an emergency grants fund aimed at helping 10,000 of the poorest children and has adapted programmes worldwide to support the families most vulnerable to lack of food, health facilities and education.

The Princess Royal, the charity’s patron, writes in the annual report that the pandemic ‘has led to devastating consequences for children, with the rise of poverty and hunger, and disruption to their education. At this time of great concern and uncertainty, I am proud of Save the Children’s response to this unprecedented humanitarian emergency.’

Last year, Save the Children supported 9.5 million children in 130 humanitarian emergencies. Its Emergency Health Unit took critical items by boat and helicopter to children cut off by Cyclone Idai in Mozambique. It tackled Ebola in the Democratic Republic of Congo and a serious cholera outbreak in Sudan.

A Global Malnutrition Initiative was launched to pilot innovative approaches in fragile and conflict-affected states. Other programmes to curb the impact of malnutrition included small cash payments to pregnant women in Myanmar and life-saving treatment for starving children in Somalia.

Save the Children helped 1.7 million children in Yemen, where five years of conflict have created one of the world’s biggest humanitarian disasters. As well as supporting 23 hospitals and 88 other health facilities, the charity mounted a sustained campaign for a ceasefire.

It also teamed up with Imperial College, London, to produce a paediatric blast injury manual which has been used in the field from Afghanistan to Syria.

In the UK, Save the Children campaigned for better early learning and changes to Universal Credit to help more than 4 million children in poverty.

It took a range of measures to improve its working culture during a Charity Commission inquiry, published in March this year, into its handling of allegations against two former executives in 2012 and 2015. All the Commission’s recommendations were accepted.

The annual report says a member of staff was investigated for allegedly failing to ensure safeguarding arrangements were implemented. Six concerns were raised about volunteers and one was dismissed for harassing a staff member. 

The report shows that the pay of senior executives was frozen at 2018 levels with Kevin Watkins the highest earner on £143,000.  The executive directors have now taken a 10% pay cut until the end of this year.

Watkins said he was proud of the aid delivered to millions of marginalised children, the charity’s high-profile campaigns in the UK and staff-led initiatives to improve its working culture. But he warned that the coronavirus pandemic confronted the world with the greatest humanitarian challenge of our generation.

‘The massive economic disruption and the lockdown have hurt many of our country’s poorest families, left children out of school and disrupted lives. The pandemic also threatens to bring devastation to the world’s poorest countries,’ he said.

‘Already weak health systems could be rapidly overwhelmed. As economic pressures mount, there is now a real and present danger that millions more children could be thrown into poverty, robbed of their education and subjected to devastating new health threats.’

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