Jobs at risk as Sussex Archaeological Society announces possible redundancies

The Sussex Archaeological Society has entered into a period of staff consultation to help reduce payroll costs, 'including some proposed redundancies'.

Fishbourne Roman Palace. Photo: Steve Robards SR2006111
Fishbourne Roman Palace. Photo: Steve Robards SR2006111

Founded in 1846, the society cares for buildings and museums across Sussex, including Fishbourne Roman Palace, the Marlipins Museum in Shoreham, Lewes Castle and Michelham Priory, near Hailsham.

In June, the society revealed that its properties were at risk of permanent closure due to the coronavirus pandemic. An urgent, fundraising campaign was subsequently launched to raise £1m worth of lost income, and secure the future of its prised assets.

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"We have some important news to share with you," a post on the society's Twitter page read today (Friday, October 9).

"It is with sadness that the society has begun a period of staff consultation to help reduce payroll costs, including some proposed redundancies."

Having lost a 'significant percentage' of its self-generated income since the beginning of the year, the society said it continues to face 'much uncertainty' around when its properties can fully re-open and operate safely.

A spokesperson said: "We are sadly not alone in these difficult times. The heritage sector is facing unprecedented challenges with many historic properties and sites across the country considering the possibility of permanent closure and/or looking to reduce costs by cutting staff hours or making redundancies.

"Our dedicated team of staff and volunteers are central to the life of our charity and we are privileged to be the guardians of eight historically important sites across Sussex.

"At every stage of the crisis, we have worked hard to limit the impact of the financial challenges on our staff, who we know care passionately about our archaeological and heritage collections and properties and in the future of the society."

This comes despite 'every possible measure' being taken by The Sussex Archaeological Society to secure its financial position.

The statement continued: "[We have been] actively using the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and other grant schemes available to us, including a maximum emergency grant award from the National Lottery Heritage Fund in parallel with careful management of all our resources.

"We are now however at a critical point where we need to do more to survive for the longer-term.

"This decision comes on a day when we wanted to share the news that our application to the Culture Recovery Fund has been successful.

"The grant of £497,500 has been awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and is allocated in order to help the society survive until March 31, 2021."

The society said it was confident that the Cultural Recovery Fund grant can help it 'begin to recover' from the impact of the pandemic and 'look to rebuild' over the 2021 financial year, adding: "We are enormously grateful for the continuing support of our staff, members, trustees, donors and visitors, especially in these most difficult of times."

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