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Oxfam to cut 125 UK jobs, reshape operations

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation - Fri, 25 Oct 2013 01:58 PM
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People walk past an Oxfam store in Dalston in east London November 28, 2008. REUTERS/Simon Newman
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LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Oxfam plans to cut 125 jobs in the UK and shut down some English regional offices as it shifts its focus to poorer countries, the international charity said on Friday.

The restructuring reflects a shift in the aid agency’s priorities to make it “more efficient” and to allow it to balance its budget, focus on delivering aid where it’s most needed and promote the rights of poor women, Oxfam said. 

"It is imperative that we have an Oxfam which lives within its means and is relevant to 21st century needs,” Oxfam CEO Mark Goldring said in a statement. 

"Advances in technology mean we no longer need as much support in head office. Instead, our resources will be focused in the regions where we carry out the majority of our work. This will mean we can deliver the most effective and efficient support to the millions of people who go to sleep hungry each night," he added.

In the first phase of the restructuring, a number of services such as human resources, finance, business support and campaigns and policy at the Oxford-based headquarters will be restructured.

From 2015, Oxfam will start tackling its international programmes and the savings from those cuts will be channelled towards improving programmes to help eradicate poverty, the organisation said.

“In terms of internationally, no - we don’t know yet (how many jobs are going to go),” an Oxfam spokesperson told Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It’s something that we are looking into. We’re looking at how we work within the confederation of Oxfam – there are 17 different country Oxfam (offices) around the world and we’re looking into how to work more strategically (with them).

FINANCIAL WOES

"This is the start of a consultation process with staff,” Jane Cotton, Oxfam’s human resources director added. “We will make every effort to keep the number of redundancies to a minimum and where possible we will redeploy people and help colleagues find work elsewhere if this is not practical.”

In middle-income countries, Oxfam’s work is going to shift from delivery to a more advocacy-based approach.

“We’re looking at more influencing work, (so) that we can be more effective,” the spokesperson said. “(To be) able to influence governments where they have the power to help more people.”

Oxfam’s annual report showed its income fell from £385.5 million in 2011/12 to £367.9 million in 2012/13, a decrease the organisation blamed on harsh economic times and fewer donations. 

In an interview with the BBC in July, Goldring said problems in Syria, Yemen and West Africa had put an "unprecedented stretch on Oxfam” and that it had been a “tough year financially.”

Oxfam is not the only aid organisation to undergo a restructuring. Earlier this year, UK-based aid agency Merlin announced it was merging with Save the Children in order to expand its reach and be more cost-effective. 

Oxfam GB employs 5,300 people across the world and has more than 22,000 volunteers.

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