We have received some questions in relation to our decision to furlough some members of our team, so we want to clear up some misunderstandings about this.
Most of our work has continued – and in some areas increased – during the pandemic period. As a statutory body we did not have the option of stopping our activities, and we have been able to move almost all our operations to home-based working. There are though some areas of work which have either temporarily reduced in volume or stopped altogether. In those areas we made use of the government’s furlough scheme as an alternative to paying salaries to those who could not work – fewer than 30 people in total. Among them were a very small number who would receive less than 80% of their salary from the government scheme. In order to be equitable to the affected individuals, Council decided that their payments would be topped up to the 80% level. The cost of that is a small fraction of the amount saved by using the furlough scheme.
This has been one of a number of ways in which the GDC has reduced its operating costs in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it does not change the wider uncertainties about our income this year or the need to be prudent in managing our finances. That is why Council decided that at present the level of the ARF should not change. But our goal is still to improve the value for money of what we do and, where we can reduce costs in a sustainable way, that will be reflected in future decisions on the level of the ARF.