RSPCA management being ‘dragged kicking and screaming ...

RSPCA management being ‘dragged kicking and screaming into 21st century’, says Unite

21 March 2016

Moves to bring the top management of the RSPCA, the world’s oldest animal welfare organisation, ‘kicking and screaming into the 21st century’ have received a cautious welcome from Unite, the country’s largest union.

Unite has been pushing for an external review of the RSPCA governance set-up, as it has been two years without a chief executive, causing the organisation to suffer from strategic drift.

Unite, which represents more than half the RSPCA workforce, said that a survey earlier this year revealed that 43 per cent of its members believed that the governance was ‘ineffective and poor’ with only four per cent satisfied with the current set-up.

Unite said that it had no desire to damage the excellent work that the 1,600-strong RSPCA workforce does - it investigates an average of 150,000 cruelty complaints annually – but feels that it could do even better with a radical governance overhaul.

Unite concerns centre on:

  • The 25-strong RSPCA board of trustees that is currently drawn from ‘a narrow pool’ of RSPCA members, some of whom have been on the board for decades. Other charities adhere to the maximum of two three-year terms   
  • The board is too large and unwieldly with the commensurate big remuneration bill; the average charity board is 13 
  • Trustees being ultimately responsible for the charity’s ‘mission’, which means there should be more transparency and independent evaluations conducted on the board’s performance. 

Unite regional officer Jamie Major said: “After two years of protracted pressure, there is finally going to be an external review of the governance of the RSPCA. 

“This is a crucial opportunity to bring the organisation kicking and screaming into the 21st century by modernising its outdated, ineffective and stale governance structures.

“However, the lack of a CEO for the past two years has resulted in a loss of leadership and deteriorating morale which has been exacerbated by the poor quality of trustee decision-making that exists on the RSPCA governmental board.

“Unite is calling on the RSPCA to use this review as an opportunity to overhaul its board and committees to ensure it has the right people from a wide range of  backgrounds with the necessary skills to lead the organisation forward.

“RSPCA staff work really hard to look after the welfare and safety of animals. We want a board in which we can be confidant will also look after its staff.”


Notes to editors:

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Email: 

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.