Staff at Sheffield City Trust 'struggling to cope' following hundreds of job cuts

Staff working in Sheffield’s biggest leisure and entertainment venues have said they are struggling to cope after Sheffield City Trust cut 470 jobs in one year.

By Molly Williams
Wednesday, 23rd February 2022, 7:57 pm
Ponds Forge is one of the main venues run by Sheffield City Trust
Ponds Forge is one of the main venues run by Sheffield City Trust

Concerns were raised by several members of staff in recent weeks who said they were struggling with huge queues because management refused to return staffing levels to what they were before Covid-19. They added that there were not enough staff members before the pandemic and it is now much worse.

The trust – which runs most of the city’s major facilities including City Hall, Ponds Forge and the English Institute of Sport – lost 470 members of staff between 2020 and 2021, according to its latest accounts on Companies House. It was down from an average of 1,260 employees in 2020 to an average of 790 employees last year.

Looking back at pre-Covid accounts, the charity has lost a total of 759 employees – nearly half of all staff – since 2018.

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Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats

Cuts were made across venues in leisure, maintenance, administration and catering – the biggest losses being in leisure and catering.

Before the recent cuts, the trust said 90 per cent of its staff lived locally.

Staffing numbers for this 2021/22 financial year are not expected to be published until December and levels may have changed as Covid restrictions eased.

Why has SCT lost so many staff?

Sheffield City Trust announced that it was considering around 300 redundancies in 2020 as a result of compounded financial pressure when all venues were shut due to Covid-19.

It followed revelations that the trust was “haemorrhaging cash” and being kept afloat by additional taxpayer money in reports by Sheffield Council, its main funder.

At the time, the union GMB said the redundancies were across all of the venues including Sheffield Arena, City Hall, Ponds Forge and iceSheffield.

It said the lowest-paid staff were being targeted and only one senior head of service was subject to ‘at risk’ status at that point.

Amid the redundancies, Lee Parkinson, GMB organiser, said: “The business model used by Sheffield City Trust has failed our members and the residents of Sheffield.

“The trust’s unfair proposals have targeted the lowest-paid and they have failed to prioritise minimising job losses or protecting services in their consultation.

“Dedicated staff face misery and hardship as jobs are ripped away.”

Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, leader of Sheffield Liberal Democrats, has voiced concern about the trust in recent years.

He said: “It very much appears that SCT is an organisation in decline.

“It had to have a massive bailout of around £16 million from the council last year and it still gets two to three million pounds from the council as an ongoing concern. Then we hear there has been a huge reduction in staff and no doubt that will have a knock on effect on the services that it provides.

“How long can we carry on like this? The contract is up for renewal soon and serious questions will be asked in terms of how we take our leisure services forward and how we deal with it. Can one organisation run all of those services?”

Sheffield City Trust was contacted for comment.