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£1.5m Temporary Reprieve For Kew Gardens

Thursday, September 4, 2014

GMB Welcome Reversal Of £1.5 Million Cut And Calls On Government To Properly Fund Royal Botanical Gardens In Kew And Sussex

This is only a short reprieve as the original £5million projected deficit by the end of 2016 has not been reduced significantly enough to ensure job security into the future says GMB.

GMB the union for staff at Kew Gardens, responded to the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg that funding will be maintained at the same level as in the last financial year, at least until April 2015 which reverses a £1.5 million cut in funding for 2014/2015. See notes to editors 1 for text of story on Press Association.

Paul Grafton, GMB Regional Officer, said “This announcement is welcome and it gives a temporary reprieve of having to axe jobs. It follows a well- supported public campaign to save 120 jobs under threat at Kew Gardens in London and at Wakehurst Place in Sussex due to government cuts. See notes to editors 2 for copy of GMB press release on the campaign.

Whilst staff breathe a sigh of relief in the hope that this will save jobs it has not stopped 50 staff already been laid off using a voluntary redundancy process.

The budget planning for Kew is only a short reprieve as the original £5million projected deficit by the end of 2016 has not been reduced significantly enough to ensure job security into the future. Some specialised staff have already gone and the many of the rest will no doubt be searching for more stable employment leaving valuable projects at jeopardy if they were to leave when many millions have been invested already.

GMB calls on the Deputy Prime Minister and DEFRA to reinstate its funding levels back to that of 1983 where 90% of its funding came directly from DEFRA. It is now at 40%. This would ensure valuable plant research continues in to the future and we retain those specialised staff within the UK.”

End

Contact: Paul Grafton on 07714 239092 or 020 8397 8881 or GMB press office 07921 289880

Notes to editors

Report of Press Association dated 3rd September

Funding secured for Kew Gardens

By Emily Beament, Press Association Environment Correspondent

Current levels of funding for Kew Gardens are to be maintained this year, following controversy over Government cuts.

Deputy Prime Nick Clegg said £1.5 million had been secured to maintain Government funding for the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew this year to help the world-renowned scientific research institute continue its work.

Reductions in funding have threatened to lead to more than a hundred job losses, affect Kew's ability to conserve plants and fungi and undertake vital research.

Earlier this year, a petition signed by 100,000 people was handed into Downing Street protesting against the job cuts.

Mr Clegg announced that funding will be maintained at the same level as in the last financial year, at least until April 2015. The announcement reverses a £1.5 million cut in funding for 2014/2015.

He said: "Kew is one of the most important scientific and environmental institutions in the world.

"That is why I am so pleased to announce today that I have secured £1.5 million to maintain Government funding for Kew Gardens until at least April 2015 so its vital work can continue.

"This is something that I know a lot of people have been campaigning for and is a significant step towards protecting the future of our environment."

Kew welcomed the recognition by the Government of the institution's work, but warned the funding would not fill the £5 million gap it had identified in its budget for this financial year.

Richard Deverell, director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, said: "We welcome this Government recognition of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew's importance and the value of our work. In recent months we have been actively articulating this.

"This funding will go some way to assist us in achieving the transition to a sustainable future for Kew. However, it will not fully resolve the original £5 million gap we identified in our budget for 2014/15 that we have been managing.

"We are committed to continuing to grow our self-generated income and managing our cost base so that we can put Kew on a firm financial footing and ensure that our science and education programmes will continue to make an impact in the areas where they are needed most."

Ends

2 GMB press release of 6th June 2014

PETITION TO 10 DOWNING STREET ON MONDAY 9TH JUNE TO STOP 120 JOB LOSSES AT ROYAL BOTANIC GARDENS IN LONDON AND SUSSEX DUE TO FUNDING CUTS

Cuts must be reversed to save globally important conservation and science under threat as Kew Gardens is a world-leader in conservation and botanical science with over 250 years of historical excellence in these fields says GMB

On Monday 9th June at 5pm a petition with more than 100,000 signatures will be handed in to Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street to save 120 jobs under threat at Kew Gardens, London and at Wakehurst Place, near Haywards Heath, Sussex due to government cuts.

The petition will be handed in at 5pm by Zac Goldsmith the local MP for Kew accompanied by GMB, PCS and Prospect members at the Royal Botanic Gardens.

The petition shows the level of public support to save 120 jobs under threat due to government cuts. Kew has already lost approximately 50 posts, vacancies are not being filled and management is planning the loss of a further 50-70 posts.

In 1983, 90 per cent of Kew’s funding came from the UK Government as grant in aid. The current amount has dropped to below 40 per cent as of this year. Funding was reduced by £0.9m in 2009-10, £1m in 2010-11, and by an extra £0.5m year-on-year since then. Kew has now been told to expect further cuts of at least another £1.5m before the end of 2016.

Kew has announced that due to £5m deficit for this year over 120 posts will be cuts. The majority of posts will be lost in the areas of science and public engagement

A national campaign was launched with a petition and Early Day Motion in Parliament. See link and notes to editors for wording of the petition and recent statement by Sir David Attenborough

http://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/globally-important-conservation-and-science-under-threat-at-royal-botanic-gardens-kew-due-to-uk-government-cuts-5m-deficit-will-lead-to-loss-of-over-120-posts

Paul Grafton GMB Regional Officer said “The government needs to listen to the experts and restore Kew’s funding to levels that will ensure the worlds plant life remains protected now and for the future.

The aim is to save globally important conservation and science under threat. The Government is being asked to reverse the existing cuts to Kew’s annual operating grant The Royal Botanic Gardens is a world-leader in conservation and botanical science, with over 250 years of historical excellence in these fields.

Never before has Kew faced such a significant threat to its future. It now needs public support to ensure its globally-important plant and fungal collections can continue to be used to support plant and fungal science and conservation around the world.

Under the 1983 National Heritage Act, the Government committed to ensure that Kew is adequately resourced to fulfil its statutory obligations, which include: research; providing advice and education; plant-related services including quarantine; caring for world-renowned scientific collections, as national reference collections available for study; and as a resource for the public to gain knowledge and enjoy. The Government is no longer fulfilling its role to allow Kew to meet these obligations.

Kew has been dramatically increasing income from non-government funding streams through the work of their partner charity Kew Foundation, and via commercially-generated income, consultancy work, and research funding. Although there are plans to extend these efforts, they are no longer able to keep up with the rate of cuts in government funding and many areas of Kew’s work are not easily resourced externally.

The majority of posts to be cut are for people in specialist careers measured in decades of experience so Kew will lose dedicated, expert staff, and whole areas of work are likely to be halted.”

Zac Goldsmith, whose constituency is home to Kew Gardens, said: “It’s not clear to me that Kew Gardens can sustain its extraordinary work with the level of cuts being imposed.

“Kew Gardens is a national jewel, and it would be a tragedy if its work and reputation were to suffer as a result of excessive cuts.”

End

Notes to editors

1 Statement by Sir David Attenborough

“Kew has an absolutely crucial role in looking after our botanical heritage and our botanical future. The important thing to remember is that it is the premiere botanical gardens in the world scientifically. People who think it is just a place to go to look at pretty flowers and flower beds are mistaking the importance of Kew Gardens. The Seed Bank is of world importance and it should be supported by the Government like a proper institution or university and the continuing idea that Kew Gardens is merely a playground and that you just put up the prices to look after it is a misguided assessment of the value of Kew. The Government and the scientific departments should recognise that and support it properly."

2 GMB asked that people show support for Kew by clicking on Change.org website and signing the petition below to the UK Government.

“We, the undersigned, request that you urgently reverse existing, proposed, and further cuts to RBG Kew’s annual operating grant in aid. The globally important conservation and science that Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is responsible for is under threat due to the government cuts imposed since 2010, and the current £5M deficit will lead to loss of over 120 posts, with whole areas of expert work likely to be halted”.

 

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