Northern welfare charities in 'discreet' merger talks

Manchester’s two major Jewish welfare charities have said they will have to consider merger, offer services to greater numbers of non-Jews and attract more communal support for their welfare operations to remain viable.

The chairmen of the Fed, the city’s largest welfare organisation, and Manchester Jewish Community Care have acknowledged that a merger between the two will be necessary in the coming years.

At the Fed’s AGM on Monday, Mark Adlestone said his charity has been in “discreet talks” about merger initiated by MJCC — which operates the Nicky Alliance Day Care Centre.
Jewish welfare services in Manchester were “facing huge financial challenges” and competition was “unsustainable.

“Where there is duplication there needs to be strategic collaboration, otherwise there is waste,” he told supporters.

Fed chief executive Karen Phillips reported overstretched demand for elderly care, especially for nursing, although its standard residential facilities remained at 70 per cent occupancy.

Ms Phillips noted that its Heathlands home “has always had one-to-two per cent non-Jewish residents. If occupancy drops because of changing demand, we have to take more creative steps.

“We need to position this home so it can take the most frail and broaden care to the wider community.”
The Fed said one product of its merger with the Heathlands Care Village four years ago had been increased donations.

Voluntary income had risen 93 per cent to £4.7 million in the last financial year, although a significant factor in the increase had been a £2 million grant from London’s Otto Schiff Housing Association.

However, much of the money has been ring-fenced for an £11 million capital investment programme to upgrade the Fed’s five-acre north Manchester facilities.

As a result, the charity recorded a £2.2 million operating deficit, up by 14 per cent from last year.
MJCC’s income of £440,000 last year was a drop of £125,000 and over £200,000 below expenditure.

Chairman Ronnie Levene said: “There are going to be further government cutbacks and increased costs which doesn’t make for a healthy position.

“We are not bankrupt but I’m concerned about the financial position of the Nicky.”

Last updated: 9:45am, July 22 2013