Renowned charity that helped the vulnerable for 105 years goes bust

A WELL-KNOWN Scottish charity with a large property portfolio is facing extinction after running out of cash, with 40 job set to be axed.

Hundreds of people who took part in the arts and educational activities run by the Edinburgh University Settlement charity have also been told their services have ended.

The news comes after it emerged the 105-year-old charity had been overspending by hundreds of thousands of pounds for years and had run out of funds to pay its employees.

Nearly all of its 40 employees have been made redundant, with some now claiming they are not being paid.

All of the charity's operations have also closed, including the Roxy, a year-round arts centre in Roxburgh Place, Edinburgh.

The Community Learning Centre, an adult education service in Regent Road which caters for about 200 people, has also closed. Other services affected include Stepping Stones in Norton Road, which runs arts activities for people with mental health issues.

The Scotsman understands the charity is likely to be forced to sell off its huge property portfolio in the capital to pay off its debts.

Employees of the charity yesterday reacted angrily to closure of the services.

Ana Calixto, the core skills programme leader at the Community Learning Centre, said that staff were due to be paid yesterday.

She said: "That's not going to happen. There are just over 20 members of staff. We reckon there are nearly 200 learners."

Rupert Thomson, director at the Roxy Art House, said: "The trustees of the account have ceased all operations and closed everything down, including the Roxy, which is obviously gutting for all staff on the settlement, but particularly for us, because we were actually trading successfully and making very good progress."

Mr Thomson said he understood the Roxy building was up for sale for about 1 million.

A staff member at Stepping Stones, who declined to give her name, said: "We have been told we have been closed."

Accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, which has been placed in charge of the charity, said the organisation did not have enough money to keep running its activities.

Bruce Cartwright, a PwC partner, said: "Our first priority has been to carry out a thorough review of the charity's activities, during which we discovered that EUS was not only operating with a substantial cost base, but it did not have the income to support its ongoing activities.

"Indeed, it would appear that the charity's outgoings have exceeded its income by some 300,000 for the last few years.

"What is clear, however, is that there is no funding to meet the ongoing liabilities, including the payment of salaries and wages to the employees.

"As a result, we have reluctantly had to let the employees know that operations had to cease.The majority of the 40 employees have been made redundant with immediate effect. However, we have retained a small, core team to help with the maintenance and subsequent disposal of the charity's property."

The Edinburgh University Settlement is an independent charity that receives no funding from the organisation.

However, it previously received financial support from Edinburgh University.