Administrators called in after Blackpool charity’s £20k loss

The Blackpool and District AGE UK shop at Bispham Village
The Blackpool and District AGE UK shop at Bispham Village

Administrators have been called in at a Blackpool charity that helps thousands of people each year.

Age UK Blackpool and District recorded losses of more than £20,000 in 2016 – the second consecutive year its accounts showed a five-figure deficit.

Coun Tony Williams

Coun Tony Williams

The charity – which last year supported more than 7,000 people with information, advice, assessments and hospital aftercare – said ‘all services’ are under review.

And a sign in the window of the charity’s Abingdon Street office states it is “closed until further notice”.

Fears over the future of its services have now sparked calls for the council to step in and help.

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative opposition on Blackpool Council, said: “I think it’s very disappointing when something like this happens. Their services will be greatly missed should they be cut.”

Information from the Charity Commission revealed that cash spent by Age UK Blackpool and District last year exceeded the amount brought in through donations, grants and other operations.

The charity, which attracts more than 70 volunteers across the Fylde coast, had outgoings of £743,409 compared to an income of £722,904 - resulting in a loss of £20,505. This follows a £36,893 deficit in 2015.

A spokesman said: “Administrators have been appointed to explore Age UK Blackpool and District’s options over the next two weeks, this includes reviewing its full offering of all services and our shops.

“However, during this process we cannot comment any further on potential outcomes or decisions at this stage. Our number one priority is to consider how we can best support older people in the area and as part of the process we will be looking at the best way this can be achieved locally.”

The charity was unable to offer a guarantee over the future of any of its current services.

Age UK Blackpool and District runs three stores in Blackpool – on Highfield Road, Whitegate Drive and Red Bank Road, in Bispham – and offers other services in the resort.

Other services run by separate branches are not affected.

In 2016, the Blackpool charity provided household help to 389 elderly people across the Fylde coast. Some 94 people attended charity-run day centre, while 372 people were supported by the charity’s hospital aftercare. Volunteers contributed 11,336 hours of their time over the year.

Figures show Age UK Blackpool and District’s shops in the resort were still turning in a small profit as of March last year – but the charity’s income from donations, legacies and fund-raising had dropped sharply, falling from £88,493 in 2014 to £17,341 in 2016.

Blackpool North and Cleveleys MP Paul Maynard said: “It is of course concerning news that the local branch of Age UK has had to call in the administrators to review their offer.

“They have over the years provided a great service and I think many people will be sorry to potentially lose those.

“My door is open to anyone from the organisation or third sector to see how we can work together to find a way for Age UK to continue in its provision.

“I will also seek to meet with the national head of Age UK to understand in greater details the challenges the local branch faces.”

Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservative group on Blackpool Council, said: “Age UK do a wonderful job; they offer friendship and advice to our elderly residents and their services will be greatly missed should they be cut. I think it’s very disappointing when something like this happens.

“Obviously the amount of money they have collected is down and there is so much competition out there, with more and more charities asking for money, from Oxfam to animal rights groups.

“Charities nationally collect around £10bn each year, but with more and more biting at the same cake there will unfortunately always be those who are left behind. I think the council should step in to help.”