Rnib group annual report and accounts 2010/11

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Our work in 2010/11

Stopping people losing their sight unnecessarily

The shocking fact that around 50 per cent of the people with a sight problem in the UK have an eye condition that could have been avoided, is why we work so hard to bring an end to people losing their sight unnecessarily. That is why this year we spent £3,405,000 reaching people most at risk of losing their sight with crucial eye health messages, and why we do all we can to ensure potentially sight-saving treatments are available to all.

This year we gave one-to-one support and advice to 3,288 people about their eye condition through our eye health information service. We distributed over 190,000 copies of our series of leaflets on the most common causes of sight loss, and the pages on our website giving information and advice about specific eye conditions were viewed over 750,000 times during the course of the year.

Our 10/11 goal

We will improve the eye health of the nation by helping people to understand how to look after their eyes. We will ensure our sight-saving messages are heard loud and clear through supporting Eye Health Week, taking our Future Vision mobile pod to 3,500 young people in ten different cities, working with our partners in the commercial sector to promote good eye health and by researching the best ways to reach those most at risk.
What we have achieved

The importance of regular eye tests in detecting potentially sight threatening eye conditions and ultimately preventing avoidable sight loss cannot be underestimated. National Eye Health Week (14-20 June 2010) saw over 30 organisations from the optical and charity sectors across the UK bring this message home to millions of people. RNIB Cymru, in conjunction with BBC Wales, broadcast a hard-hitting television advert at prime time, which stressed the importance of regular eye tests.

We have continued to increase our knowledge and understanding of the barriers faced by people from low income and minority ethnic backgrounds in accessing eye health services. We have reviewed how other organisations have tried to reach these high risk groups, and the findings from this will be promoted at the UK Vision Strategy conference in June 2011. In five areas of the UK we worked with local community groups and healthcare providers to assess who was, and was not, getting the eye care services they required. We have now taken these findings to commission further research which will later this year provide us with an excellent insight into the main barriers and enablers to eye care services - and help us effectively target our sight saving messages in the future. Our parliamentary reception at the Palace of Westminster gave MPs the opportunity to have their eyes tested and gave us the opportunity to promote the importance of eye health and the need for it to be included within the agreements made between local authorities and healthcare providers.

RNIB's Future Vision mobile pod demonstrates how general health as well as eye health can be affected by the lifestyle choices that are made when you are young, with a particular focus on the fact that smoking causes blindness. This year we took the pod to 11 sites across the UK and got the message out to over 4,000 young people. It has been so successful that we are extending the Future Vision tour to cover a further 10 sites over the next 12 months.

Our 10/11 goal

In an election year, we will make eye health a political priority and increase pressure on government to give eye health greater priority across health and social care sectors. We’ll do this by supporting the UK Vision Strategy across the UK and publishing valuable guidance for Primary Care Trusts to help them build eye care services into their plans.
What we have achieved

Our commitment to support and lead the UK Vision Strategy in delivering its aims to end avoidable sight loss by 2020 remains strong. This year saw the second annual UK Vision Strategy conference (Vision UK 2010) bringing together people from across the sector along with key decision makers from Government and the National Health Service. The conference also saw the launch of the UK Vision Strategy patients charter - setting out the level of service people should expect from their healthcare provider.

But the new government elected in May 2010 has led to a change of tack in this area and we now need to respond to the newly emerging NHS, re-engage with ministers on UK health and ensure eye health is given the priority it deserves. We continued to use the strength of the sector speaking with one voice as, under the umbrella of the UK Vision Strategy, a joint response to health service reforms was issued in October 2010 and initial signs are that we are getting strong engagement from government.

After the election we held a reception to meet new MPs as well as those that had been re-elected. We introduced them to the challenges of living with sight loss by asking them to complete everyday tasks such as making a cup of tea or using a cash machine while blindfolded. We followed up on the reception by sending all MPs a pack explaining how they can meet the needs of their blind and partially sighted constituents around access to information, access to their constituency office and making their websites accessible.

Our 10/11 goal

We will help people to get the eye care treatments they need by challenging instances of poor treatment of eye disease, improving the level of screening for children’s eye health and influencing the availability of new treatments for eye conditions. We will also be working to identify the best ways to help those people most at risk to access treatment.
What we have achieved

The right treatment at the right time can be vital to saving someone's sight. It is hard to imagine how frustrating it would feel to know something could be done to save your sight but the right option was not available to you. Through a specialist advocacy service we are supporting a number of people across the UK to challenge their health service and achieve the treatment that is best for them. We have challenged a number of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England who have introduced a choice between a licensed treatment (Lucentis) and its unlicensed and cheaper alternative (Avastin) for patients with age-related macular degeneration. Due to misleading patient information this has led to most patients in these areas (Bury and Stockport) choosing the unlicensed treatment. We have challenged these policies involving the Strategic Health Authority, the Department of Health and the Care Quality Commission. Unfortunately, the PCTs have so far persisted with a service that clearly contravenes the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance, as well as guidance from the Secretary of State, and is focussed on financial drivers rather than patient safety.

We have made effective progress across the eye health sector highlighting the issues of children's eye health in government public eye health consultations. Toward the end of the year we submitted, together with the Royal College of Ophthalmologists, a response to the Public Health White Paper calling on the Government to make children's screening at school mandatory. All this coupled with professional engagement across a number of children's groups in the sector has secured our place in future discussions to improve the current provision of children's visual screening.

Further highlights

Following months of campaigning by RNIB Scotland and partners Eyecare Scotland and Optometry Scotland, the Scottish Government announced a £6.6million investment in a revolutionary digital imaging system which will save the sight of thousands of people in Scotland as it creates a direct link between the high street optometrist and the hospital eye clinic, where sight saving treatments can now be instigated far more quickly than previously possible. The "Electronic Referral with Digital Images" system sends a digital image of the eye directly from the optometrist to the ophthalmologist, cutting out patient referral and waiting time. The case for the funding was made through RNIB Scotland's "Cost of blindness" report which was published during Eye Health Week and warned that the number of people with a sight problem in Scotland could double to around 400,000 by 2030 if something wasn't done. The adoption of the system was one of the key asks of the report and we are very proud that RNIB Scotland have also been invited to join the steering group overseeing its implementation.
This year we developed and launched the "Eyes right" screening tool, which enables communities to take the first step in managing their own eye health and identify at the earliest possible stage potentially sight-threatening eye conditions which may previously have gone undetected until it was too late. This, and the accompanying training package which helps people use the tool effectively, have received very positive feedback since their launch in September.

Our goals for 11/12

1. Launch community engagement projects in five areas of the UK to identify evidence to improve access to primary and secondary eye care for people on low income and people from Pakistani and Caribbean populations.

2. Campaign against cuts to eye health treatment to preserve sight by continuing to challenge NHS providers who do not adhere to National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance.

3. Deliver key messages through National Eye Health Week, raising awareness of the importance of eye health and changing the behaviour of the people most at risk of losing their sight as well as the general public.

Ken's story

Ken had enjoyed reading throughout his life and thanks to the RNIB Talking Book Service was able to continue after losing his sight. He now reaps all the benefits of the latest DAISY technology and has up to three books on the go at any one time.

"Getting access to talking books helps people have meaningful lives despite their sight loss. Reading is that important." - Ken Reid

Supporting independent living

Many people feel more afraid of losing their sight than any other sense. This is because of the perceived, and often very real, impact sight loss can have on your independence. But it is vital people maintain their independence, and are able to lead a full and enjoyable life. This is why we have spent £88,271,000 this year on the services, support and solutions that enable people to remain independent.

During the year Action for Blind People's local teams aided the independence of nearly 30,000 people by providing support and advice. Our Helpline dealt with nearly half a million enquiries and our website with over two million visitors. We sent out over 1.7 million books to users of our library services and over 400,000 specially adapted products were sold to blind and partially sighted people.

Our 10/11 goal

We aim to support and care for over 11,000 people at the very difficult time of losing their sight through our programme of Eye Clinic Liaison Officers (ECLO) working in eye hospitals around the country. In addition, we will help 24,000 people find their life again after sight loss through in-depth sessions delivered by our Helpline.
What we have achieved

Being diagnosed with a sight problem that could radically change your perception of the rest of your life, can understandably have a huge impact. That is why in recent years we have put so much effort into the development and implementation of the Eye Clinic Liaison Officer (ECLO) role in hospital eye clinics. The ECLO has the time to dedicate to individual patients directly after consultation. ECLO and Vision Support Services (as they are called in Scotland) were there for almost 14,000 people this year providing the vital initial contact which will enable them to more easily access the support and services they need in the future to maintain their independence.

Our Helpline's advice and legal rights teams helped over 26,000 people with in-depth support and advocacy work. Across the UK, RNIB and Action benefits advice workers helped to identify previously unclaimed entitlements for 8,451 people, amounting to an amazing £10.8million.

Our 10/11 goal

Our new Rushton School and Children's Home will offer a fantastic school and care home for blind and partially sighted children who have other very complex needs when it opens in 2011. We will also increase the quality and availability of specialist teaching and support for blind and partially sighted learners across the UK through training, resources and campaigning for change.
What we have achieved

RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning (the new name for Rushton School and Children's Home) is due to open in the summer of 2011. Children moved into the new residential accommodation in April 2011 and the new school will be fully fitted out and in use by the start of the new academic year in September. This year the school became the only non-maintained school in England to be awarded specialist status for special educational needs cognition and learning - a fabulous achievement.
We continue to strive to improve the learning experience of pupils with sight problems through a wide range of activities designed to support and develop education providers and professionals. This year this has included delivering vital training (such as our Partners in Learning courses for teaching assistants) and resources (such as the "Best of Both" guides detailing best practice for professionals working with children with a visual impairment and complex needs) to teachers helping them to understand the needs of their blind and partially sighted pupils.

Our 10/11 goal

In a period of economic uncertainty we will campaign with the National Association of Local Societies of Visually Impaired People (NALSVI) and Guide Dogs for the Blind Association to protect benefits for blind and partially sighted people so that the same quality services are available to all wherever you live in the UK.

What we have achieved

The year began with the success of our Attendance Allowance campaign. The previous government had planned to abolish this benefit for new claimants aged 65 or over with a disability, but through our responses to the Green Paper and continued lobbying we persuaded them the choice and control this benefit gives people is vital to their ongoing independence.

Later in the year we published a joint response to the Government's Welfare Reform Bill with other sight loss charities. The report, titled "More than meets the eye", contains in-depth analysis of the proposed reforms and highlights the potential impact, including the facts that many blind and partially sighted people would lose their DLA entitlement from 2013 and that the double whammy of cuts to benefits and cuts to public services will move more people further away from work as well as dramatically reducing their disposable income. Our vigorous campaign against these changes will continue throughout 2011, as will the help and support we give to blind and partially sighted people. We are already seeing an increase in the number of people coming to us worried about their future and the implications of the cuts to them.

Our 10/11 goal

Losing your sight shouldn’t also mean losing your job! That’s why we will help 1,250 people to stay in work or to find a new job during the testing times of the recession.
What we have achieved

Our target has been achieved with 1,901 people retaining or finding new work. However the target has been achieved largely through job retention. We worked with employers to enable 1,592 people losing their sight to continue in their employment. We helped 309 people with sight loss to find work but in the worsening economic climate it has been very difficult and we are still waiting for signs of improvement.

Our 10/11 goal

Undetected sight problems among people with learning difficulties limit potential and quality of life. We want to put this right and so will be supporting Mencap’s National Learning Disability Week, where we will launch a new DVD to help professionals to spot the signs of sight loss.
What we have achieved

Many people with a learning disability have never had their sight tested and are often struggling to cope with complex eye conditions. Proper assessment of their vision and ongoing support can dramatically improve their quality of life. This year in order to combat this problem we launched our DVD "Bridge to vision". Winner of The Herald Society Partnership Award it has been a tremendous success and has been adopted by three leading colleges and uploaded onto one optometrist's website as a training tool for staff and students. Developed in collaboration with Glasgow Caledonian University and Optometry Scotland, over 1,300 copies of the DVD have been circulated but the reach will be far greater than that. We are confident that in the future this will lead to greater levels of detection of sight problems in people with learning disabilities and consequently an improvement in their life chances.

Further highlights

Our information and membership services, including the RNIB Helpline, dealt with an amazing 465,314 individual enquires this year and our website welcomed over two and a quarter million visitors, providing people with the information, support and advice they need, at the time that they need it.

Action for Blind People's 17 regional teams across England supported nearly 30,000 people this year to lead more independent lives. The Action teams assess the individual needs of people with sight problems and create personal action plans that may include housing, financial or benefits advice; practical IT support from Action's technology experts; employment support and much more. This vital work in the community was supplemented by Action's mobile information service which travelled the length of England, visiting 157 venues, providing face-to-face advice, information and support to 7,080 people during the year.

Action also supports blind and partially sighted children and their families at a local level. Children with sight problems often miss out on sporting opportunities at school because games are not adapted so that they can participate. This is the reason for Action's 29 clubs for blind and partially sighted children and young people known as Actionnaires. The clubs are situated throughout England and Wales and provided sporting and other opportunities to almost 3,500 children this year that they would otherwise not experience. RNIB College Loughborough helps people with sight loss and other disabilities to learn the skills to access education, work and housing. This year the college achieved four of the top grades from their annual Ofsted inspection and is well on its way to achieving its target of being graded "Outstanding" by 2012.
This year we sold over 400,000 products which have been specially designed by us to make life easier for people with sight problems. This includes new products such as the labelling device "PenFriend" - which can be used to identify all sorts of items around the home - to products that have been helping blind and partially sighted people for years such as the liquid level indicator - which can help make a cup of tea. These quite often simple products can make a huge difference to people living with sight loss, which is why this year we invested in improving the online shopping experience of our customers by the redevelopment and launch of our online shop. Why not try it yourself at rnib.org.uk/shop

The quality of RNIB Insight Radio was recognised at the annual Freesat awards as well as on the international stage at the New York Radio Festival Awards. It was also recognised by more than 95,000 blind and partially sighted people who tune in every week - not to mention their sighted friends and family. We created supportive networks for people with sight problems through our Talk and Support telephone groups, running 6,000 sessions giving over 1,600 people the ability to share their anxieties and concerns and learn directly from the experiences of others. We also gave one-to-one emotional support sessions to over 3,700 people at the crucial point where they are struggling to come to terms with losing their sight.

RNIB Cymru and Cardiff, Vales and Valleys continue to provide essential face-to-face support to blind and partially sighted people not just in Cardiff, but thanks to the power of joint working, for the first time in the south west valleys and as far west as Swansea. An example of this is the volunteers who support blind and partially sighted people in their homes in the use of a computer, a service that is replicated throughout the UK where we have over 700 volunteers introducing people to the technology and products that can potentially make a real difference to their lives.
November saw the 75th anniversary of our Talking Book Service which has provided a vital reading service to blind and partially sighted people during these years. Last year we sent out over 1.7 million books to the services 38,000 subscribers. As well as talking books, over six and a half thousand library members benefit from braille, giant print and Moon publications.
It is now more than a year since National Talking Newspapers and Magazines (NTNM) became part of RNIB Group and the service continues to deliver audio and text versions of national and local newspapers and magazines to around 13,000 people either via the internet or direct to the door of blind and partially sighted people.

Our goals for 11/12

1. Support 1,250 blind and partially sighted people, by working with their employers or potential employers, to retain work when losing their sight, or to find new employment.

2. Increase the level of support available to blind and partially sighted people in their homes to access and make the most of technology such as computers and talking book players by developing our volunteer base.

3. Make the most of the fantastic facilities available to children with sight loss and complex needs at RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning.

4. Lobby on the Welfare Reform Bill as it moves between the House of Commons and the House of Lords to ensure blind and partially sighted people receive a fairer settlement than currently anticipated.

5. Provide people with sight problems with the information, support and advice they need to cope with the current economic climate and the potential impact on their lives of cuts to services or benefits.

Linda's story

After losing her sight in a car accident, Action helped and supported Linda in regaining her independence, using appropriate technology and worked with her to start up her own consultancy business.

"Action helped me realise that you can achieve anything with the right support, and got me back in employment and earning a living." - Linda Bancroft.

Adrian's story

Adrian is 18 years old. He is partially sighted with substantial physical needs, is strongly affected by epilepsy and is a wheelchair user. At RNIB Pears Centre we are able to manage Adrian's very complex needs to allow him to learn and achieve.

"The care and education Adrian has received at RNIB Pears Centre has changed his life - and ours - for the better." - Adrian's mum.

Creating an inclusive society

We want to make the UK a better place to live if you are blind or partially sighted. In 2010/11 we spent £10,136,000 working to improve the travel, shopping and banking experiences of people with sight problems, as well as developing better ways to read, watch television and get the most from technology.

We continued to put pressure on local service providers by utilising the vital support we receive from the almost 4,000 people who make up our campaign supporter's network. This year they made 72 challenges to services that are inaccessible to blind and partially sighted people from the retail, banking and travel sectors. And we were delighted in a tough economic climate to maintain the level of RNIB membership. At the end of the year 10,373 people were reaping the benefits of membership and receiving special offers, invites to regional member meetings and our bi-monthly members' magazine Vision, as well as helping us continue to shape the future direction of our work for people with sight problems.

Our 10/11 goal

Getting around, shopping and managing your own money safely and independently doesn’t sound too much to ask, but these everyday tasks are often not possible for people with sight problems. We will campaign for change, use our influence in the travel, retail and financial industries to create eight beacons of best practice and ensure that blind and partially sighted people better understand their rights.
What we have achieved

We have made some real progress this year influencing transport organisations such as First Capital Connect and Scotrail to introduce improved services for blind and partially sighted people. And in February 2011 the new buses and coaches directive from the EU gives blind and partially sighted people the right to expect accessible travel information, both before and during their journey, and that staff have received basic disability training and are therefore more understanding and able to help them. This is a great success for us and demonstrates the potential of our network of volunteer campaigners who wrote hundreds of letters to their MPs in support of the campaign.

The "React" wayfinding system enables people to navigate around a given area through a system of signals sent to them as they move around. It was launched in Brighton and Hove in 2007 where it has been a great success. This year we have helped with the installation of the system into many new areas including Manchester city centre and on the Newcastle Metro.

On a local level we have supported many people to challenge local travel providers to make their service more accessible to people with sight problems. An example of this is Madeleine Close in Hampshire, an RNIB volunteer, who challenged local council plans to review the disabled person bus pass and actually ended up securing an extension to the amount of time the pass can be used rather than a reduction. We celebrated success in Scotland too where we held our "Go! Shop! awards" acknowledging the improvements made to the services available to people with sight problems by organisations such as Waitrose, Tesco Online and the Royal Bank of Scotland. As well as helping them improve their services we made a big splash with the awards to ensure the message got out there to as many service providers as possible - encouraging them to do the same.

Our 10/11 goal

Ebooks, digital magazines and newspapers and websites should be opening up a whole new world of reading, but only if they are developed with disabled people in mind. We will work with manufacturers, industry and service providers to ensure that blind and partially sighted people do not miss out on the digital revolution.
What we have achieved

There is no doubt that the advent of ebooks holds an enormous amount of potential for blind and partially sighted people. But that is only if they are produced and delivered in a way that is accessible. This year we have worked hard to influence manufacturers to increase the availability of built in text-to-speech features in ebook players and for rights holders to enable text-to-speech on their ebooks. It is certainly good news this year that the second generation Kindle can be more easily used by blind and partially sighted people.

The potential of mobile technology should also not be underestimated. We have strengthened our engagement with the mobile phone industry, working with global device makers and national mobile networks, and achieving some real gains. Our Techshare Mobile 2010 conference, brought together around 150 key players to focus on the accessibility of mobile devices. Following our advocacy with Blackberry maker, Research in Motion, a new free of charge low vision theme was released. We are also in the process of finalising a partnership with Nokia around the accessibility of mobile devices and are engaging with several mobile network providers with the aim of bringing more accessible mobile devices to market. With software company Adobe we are testing a new accessible book reading platform and Microsoft has requested we carry out customer testing of their new internet browser, ensuring its accessibility to people with sight problems.

As well as ensuring inclusive products are developed we have continued to introduce blind and partially sighted people to the potential of technology and support them in realising this potential. Our "Taste the Apple" days introduced some of our members to products they had not previously experienced such as Apple's iPhone and iPad - whose built-in accessibility features are leading the way - and explained how they could be used and the benefits they could derive from them.

Our 10/11 goal

Our campaign to make the Disability Living Allowance fairer was hugely successful and will soon mean up to £45million a year for blind people. But there is more to do – so in 2010/2011 we will make sure blind people know about their new rights and are ready to take up this additional benefit as soon as it’s available.
What we have achieved

We started the year celebrating this success and working with voluntary sector partners and the Department for Work and Pensions to get the message out there to people that they may be entitled to the additional mobility component of Disability Living Allowance.

But unfortunately as the year drew to a close, and just as this new entitlement was going to be realised on 11 April 2011, blind and partially sighted people were put under threat again, from the Welfare Reform Bill. The proposals in the Bill could mean that up to a fifth of the people currently receiving DLA will not be eligible for any benefit after their Personal Independence Payment assessment, and 80,000 individuals in state-funded residential care will no longer receive the mobility component of DLA from October 2012.

Further highlights

This year we achieved what they said could never be done. Working with Goodmans we produced the first fully accessible talking set-top box. The "Smart Talk" set-top box enables blind and partially sighted people to utilise the full benefits of digital television in their homes. And in February this year Smart Talk was awarded a "Best Buy" award by Which? magazine.

As the Equality Act made the rights of blind and partially sighted people more explicit we made it easier for organisations to produce material in large print, braille and audio by launching "webdocs", an online service that can get information delivered within 48 hours. As a direct result of our Losing Patients campaign - where we worked with people with sight problems to get their health providers to recognise they could not read print and provide them with information they could read - Yorkshire NHS changed their data capturing systems to include details of a persons preferred reading format.

Years of partnership working with the European Blind Union finally bore fruit in December 2010 when braille became compulsory on pharmaceutical packaging. This, plus the introduction of our "x-pil" service where people can request copies of their medicine information leaflets in the reading format of their choice via a simple telephone call, gives people with sight problems far more control over their own medication and health.
Also on the international stage we worked hard all year to gain support for a "books without borders" treaty at UN body "WIPO" (World Intellectual Property Organisation). If agreed, the treaty would remove the copyright law barriers that stop the UK's blind and partially sighted people from receiving thousands of accessible books from the USA and other English-speaking countries.
A little closer to home our "Lisburn in Focus" project was launched. Funded by the Big Lottery Fund the project aims to make Lisburn in Northern Ireland a centre of excellence for services which are accessible to blind and partially sighted people. We are working with service providers and businesses to ensure everything they do is accessible to people with sight problems and is a demonstration of best practice to service providers throughout the UK. So far we have delivered training to 3,000 people helping them to understand what it is like to live with a sight problem, increased the amount of information in the area produced in alternative formats to print, and worked with a number of organisations to improve the accessibility of their premises and websites to blind and partially sighted people.

Our goals for 11/12

1. Through our network of campaign supporters we will make 40 challenges to retail, leisure and financial environments that are inaccessible to blind and partially sighted people.

2. Through advocacy and industry engagement we will ensure that 10 of the most popular UK online services are accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

3. Work with manufacturers and industry to ensure that blind and partially sighted people have a wider choice of mobile telephones and television Freeview boxes which meet their needs.

Stanley's story

Stanley was in a bad way when one of Action's independent living coordinators visited him at home. We helped Stanley identify and claim the benefits he was entitled to, to help him cope with the additional expenses of living with sight loss.

"I am extremely grateful ton Action for all their support - without them I would not have received the benefits I am entitled to." - Stanley Yates

Financial review

In 2008/9 we announced the new RNIB Group strategy for the five years to March 2014. This is based around the three aims of prevention of sight loss, independent living and creating an inclusive society. The Group Statement of Financial Activities (SOFA) reflects this strategy.
Of our overall incoming resources 57 per cent came from fundraising activity (of which 31 per cent or £35.8 million was from legacies), 40 per cent from service related income and 3 per cent from other sources.
Despite the current economic climate, we are pleased that our fundraising income has held up relatively well ending up ahead of budget although behind last year.
Like many other voluntary organisations, we have felt the impact of government cuts on our service income and recognise the need to be consistently more effective whilst ensuring we are delivering to meet the needs of blind and partially sighted people.
Group incoming resources have fallen by £18.8million, but this is explained by the inclusion in 2010 of £17.7million by way of acquired net assets on association and £1.5million from a VAT claim.

Our outgoing resources were split between supporting our three strategic aims of prevention of sight loss (3 per cent), independent living (74 per cent) and creating an inclusive society (8 per cent), together with the costs of raising funds (14 per cent) and the governance costs for the organisation (1 per cent). What we did with these resources is explained in "Our Work in 2010/11" earlier in the report. Group outgoing resources have fallen by £10.4million primarily due to reduced costs in our activities in supporting independent living.

RNIB's associated charities are Action, CVV and NTNM. These charities contributed income of £14.4million and charitable activities of £11.5million to the Group in 2010/11. On consolidation Action has brought a further £0.472million by way of net assets at fair value to the Group as a result of the mergers with Staffordshire Blind and the Blind Society for North Tyneside Limited.
Other significant activity during the year was:

  • The continued construction of our new RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning in Coventry. Construction work cost £11.4 million during the year. Despite some delays, mainly due to poor weather, the children moved into the living accommodation in April 2011. The school will be in use from September 2011. The construction costs are covered by fundraised income and a bank loan from Allied Irish Bank (AIB).

  • Significant uses of designated funds have included £240,000 starting eye clinic services in Northern Ireland, £130,000 on "Work Focus" employment project, and £410,000 making digital TV more accessible to blind and partially sighted people.

  • We have also spent £590,000 starting the implementation phase of a new Customer Relationship Management system for the Charity to deliver improved customer interaction. This system will deepen our understanding of our customers needs and should be in place in March 2013.

  • We have also been able to fund Eye Clinic Liaison Officers around the UK. We will be working to influence the funding of these posts from government in the future.

Free reserves at the end of the year stood at £20.4million which is equivalent to 12.7 weeks as compared to £19.1million or 10.5 weeks at 31 March 2010. We had planned for our reserves to fall during 2009/10 to support our projects and services during the difficult economic period but are pleased with our success in bringing these back in line with our normal reserves policy of between twelve and seventeen weeks of operating costs.

The last formal triennial valuation of the pension scheme was at 31 March 2009. The valuation disclosed that the market value of the Scheme's assets (excluding voluntary contributions) at that date was £93.3million, and that there was a deficit of £28.6 million. RNIB has agreed a recovery plan with the RNIB Pension Fund Trustees to pay additional contributions of £1million per annum for 17 years. This will be part funded by a reduction in employer contributions as a result of reducing the inflation cap for pensions in payment and deferred pensions from 5 per cent to 3 per cent for benefits accruing after 30 June 2010. These actions, together with the recovery in the world stock markets has led to an FRS17 pension scheme surplus of £1.7million compared with the deficit last year of £9.2million.
The two subsidiary trading companies of the group contributed £288,000 to the RNIB Group through gift aid.
We are very grateful for the continued support of donors through legacies, gifts and donations, as well as the work of our many volunteers, which allows the vital work of the RNIB to continue. The challenge of raising over £67.3million (2011: £66.5million) for 2011/12 is a tall mountain to climb but we are convinced that we will achieve it so we can ensure our customers receive the support they need and deserve.

Fundraising review

Total voluntary income for 2010/11 amounts to £66.9 million, a decrease of £1.4million against 2009/10 but ahead of our budget for the year. We are pleased to have achieved this against the background of the current economic difficulties that we all face.

On 1 April 2009 RNIB and Action entered into an association agreement. Under the terms of that agreement RNIB has taken over the responsibility for the fundraising operation of Action in return for a grant. The grant in 2010/11 has amounted to £8.4million. The net proceeds of this fundraising activity have been restricted within these accounts for the benefit of Action.

Fundraising costs for 2010/11 amount to £15.9million which compares with a figure for 2009/2010 of £16.7million. The fundraising costs are net of a recharge in the sum of £4.9million for costs incurred in raising public awareness about matters relating to sight loss. These costs have been included within the costs of "Charitable activities".
We have continued to invest in our supporter relationship management programme, which we regard as an essential investment to secure long-term income. It will also help us to be more efficient in communicating essential messages and collecting donations. Our investment in fundraising is vital to sustaining our income and our ability to plan and fund direct services, but we remain focused on driving efficiencies and reducing our costs.
RNIB is a member of the Fundraising Standard Board (FRSB) scheme, the body of self-regulation of fundraising in the UK and as a member we adhere to the highest standards of good practice.


Volunteers are crucial to our ability to deliver our strategy and without this fantastic support it would not be possible for us to achieve all we do right across the RNIB group of charities.
This year 157 services were able to achieve more for blind and partially sighted people because of the support of volunteers. This includes visiting people in their homes to help them with technology such as computers or televisions, collecting donations from money boxes across the UK, helping to organise fundraising events, facilitating telephone book clubs for blind and partially sighted people, helping to produce braille and audio material, presenting shows on RNIB Insight radio and helping blind and partially sighted people to get around safely.

Across the group of charities we have benefited from the support of over 4,400 volunteers during the year, contributing over 37,000 hours of their time to us every month.

Employing disabled people

RNIB recognises the exclusion and disadvantages that disabled people experience as a result of social, economic, and material barriers, created by the world in which they live. RNIB also recognises that disabled people may be enabled by learning additional skills.
RNIB is working to ensure that disabled people receive the maximum possible benefit that can accrue to them through the Equality Act (Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland). As an employer, RNIB takes steps to ensure that it meets its obligations under the law and, where possible, exceeds it. This includes making reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of disabled job applicants and employees. RNIB extends this principle to committee members, trustees and volunteers in line with best practice.
Currently 10.7 per cent of our employees are disabled. Through our Access Support Technology Unit we are able to provide specialist advice and support to ensure that disabled staff have the appropriate equipment and training to perform effectively. Disabled staff are assisted by providing additional reasonable adjustments where these are required. Our Disabled Staff Forum also meets and provides feedback on specific issues which affect disabled staff.

Engagement with staff

RNIB has a number of mechanisms for engaging staff and seeking their views, both formal and informal. Our Staff Communication and Consultation Forums meet at site, regional and national level to discuss areas that are specifically of interest to staff but also to receive information about the financial health of the organisation and how we are achieving our strategic goals. Staff are also increasingly using the internal intranet based discussion boards to share ideas and raise issues. During 2011 we also conducted an organisation- wide staff survey and we are currently working on the delivery of an action plan to address areas arising from this.

Investment policy

Statement of investment principles

Investment decisions are taken on the advice of the Investment Committee whose members have a finance, investment or commercial background.
The Charity's investment policy is to hold assets to achieve an appropriate return with an appropriate level of risk when considered alongside the Charity's business plan and level of reserves. It has three investment objectives:

  • to invest prudently - the basic investment strategy of the Charity has been to invest in a way that the minimum level of reserves is very likely to remain covered, but with some investment risk being taken on the assets over and above this minimum level

  • to invest in liquid assets - the Charity could call upon its quoted investments at any point. It should be straightforward to sell the Charity's assets down to cash, and doing so should result in the cash being available quickly and without the potential for significant adverse impact on the value of investments

  • to invest ethically - the Charity wishes to avoid unethical investments, and in particular tobacco stocks due to the link between smoking and certain conditions that result in sight loss.

Investments are currently allocated 20 per cent in equities, 40 per cent in bonds and 40 per cent in cash. This strategy was developed with the advice of Hewitt Associates and takes into account the nature of the Charity's business as reflected in its business plans.

It is the Charity's intention to hold sufficient short term cash holdings to meet fluctuating needs and to make appropriate use of an overdraft facility as required with the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The Charity's reserves policy is to normally maintain reserves equivalent to between 12 and 17 weeks of its operating costs. Planned project expenditure from designated funds and the current economic uncertainty have led the charity to hold its investments in a low risk and liquid portfolio.

It is the Charity's aim to perform an annual desk top review of Investment Managers and to meet them as appropriate.
The Charity has mandates with Legal & General and Foreign & Colonial (F&C) and fee structures are:

  • Legal & General Ethical Trust - 0.235 per cent per annum

  • Legal & General Cash Trust - 0.23 per cent per annum

  • Foreign & Colonial Ethical Bond Fund Share Class 2 - 0.55 per cent per annum.

In the year Endowment Funds were moved from the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) to F&C. F&C fee structures are:

  • Foreign & Colonial Ethical Bond Fund Share Class 2 - 0.55 per cent per annum.

  • Foreign & Colonial Stewardship Income Fund (Dist) Share Class 2 - 0.88 per cent per annum.

The group investments include a further £45,000 relating to the Cardiff Vales and Valleys, £2,960,000 for Action and £31,000 for the Glynn Vivian Home of Rest for the Blind. Other than the investments of Staffordshire Blind, all Action's funds are now managed by Legal & General, using pooled funds to match the allocation set out in their investment strategy, and their performance is closely monitored against, and closely matches, publicly available market benchmarks. The investments of Staffordshire Blind are managed by Rensburg Sheppards Investment Management Limited.

Investment performance

The funds in which the investments are held are measured against agreed benchmark indices for each relevant holding. The performance for the investments held by RNIB as at 31 March 2011 against each fund's benchmark index are detailed in the table below.

Value at 31 March 2011


Actual holding


Target holding




Performance in year to 31 March 2011

(or since inception if earlier)



Performance in year to 31 March 2011

(or since inception if earlier)



Performance in year to 31 March 2011

(or since inception if earlier)










Corporate bonds








UK equities













Cash deposits are placed on behalf of the RNIB Group including the Associated Charities by their respective banking organisations.

At 31 March 2011 the Group’s cash and short-term deposits stood at £7.1 million. During the year the group interest received on cash and short-term deposits was £12,000 of which £7,000 related to the RNIB Charity. The RNIB Charity’s short-term deposits were all overnight places and the average return made was 0.2%.
During the year the RNIB Charity moved its Endowment Funds from the CAF investments to F&C investments.
At 31 March 2011 the unrealised gain on the Endowment Funds was £294,000, and the breakdown of the unrealised gain by fund can be found in note 20.
The Sunshine, Elizabeth Eagle-Bott and Dr Duncan Leeds Funds are all held in both the F&C Stewardship Fund and the F&C Ethical Bond Fund.
The Emma Nye Fund is held in the F&C Stewardship Fund only.
The Bristol Blind and GDC Rushton Funds are held in the F&C Ethical Bond Fund only.

Reserves policy

RNIB’s reserves policy focuses on the level of “free reserves”. Free reserves exclude restricted funds and designated funds, which include the net book value of land and buildings occupied by RNIB services and activities. The assessment of free reserves excludes any surplus or deficit reported on the pension scheme.

RNIB seeks to maintain free reserves to manage the risks to which the Charity is exposed in the course of its business, including but not limited to safeguarding against volatile voluntary income.
The Trustees review the reserves policy each year and consider that in order to meet these needs, and to operate effectively, RNIB needs reserves equivalent to between 12 and 17 weeks of its operating costs. This equates to between £19.3million and £27.3million. RNIB’s free reserves were £20.4million at 31 March 2011 (2010: £19.1 million), which equates to 12.7 weeks (2010: 10.5 weeks). The Trustees have agreed a business plan in support of the strategy which aims to increase reserves within the reserves policy range during the strategy period.
The actuarial valuation of RNIB's pension scheme at 31 March 2011 for the purposes of FRS17 showed a surplus of £1.7million (2010 a deficit of £9.2million), which is set against the level of free reserves as required by FRS17. The corresponding liability does not result in an immediate cash flow impact on the Charity. A full triennial valuation of the pension fund took place as at 31 March 2009 and the updated valuation has been produced and considered by the Pension Scheme Trustees. Contributions to the scheme are met through planned income. The level of free reserves has been calculated excluding the FRS17 asset.

At 31 March 2011 RNIB held designated funds totalling £51.3million (2010: £55.8million). Of this £42.4million (2010: £43.8million) relates to properties and £1.6million (2010: £1.4million) relates to other assets (mainly talking book players) both used directly in undertaking RNIB’s objectives. The remaining funds amounting to £7.6million (2010: £10.6million) for this year represent the investment and mergers funds together with amounts expected to be spent within three years on the maintenance and replacement of properties and other assets. The fund definitions can be found within note 20.

Where restricted fund balances are in a deficit situation, then unless these will be covered by forthcoming receipts, the deficit balances are charged to general funds. Such balances in 2011 amounted to £220,000, all of which are to be covered by forthcoming receipts.

Risk management

The Board of Trustees is responsible for overseeing the Charity’s risk management activities. Detailed consideration of risk is delegated to the Audit Committee, which is assisted by senior charity management in continually reviewing this matter and reporting thereon to the main Board.
Major risk factors currently identified include: reductions in public spending meaning less funds available for blind and partially sighted people; and changes to public sector contracts - less income, different delivery models, or new contracting arrangements. Mitigating strategies and/or contingency plans, controls and actions are in place for these and other risks identified.
Through the risk management process established for the Charity, the Trustees are satisfied that the major risks have been identified and processes for addressing them have been implemented. It is recognised that any control systems can only provide reasonable but not absolute assurance that major risks have been adequately managed.

Going concern

Having reviewed the strategic risks facing the charity, the business plan for the period to 2013/14 and the cash and investments forecast over the same period the Board of Trustees considers that there are sufficient reserves held at 31 March 2011 to manage those risks successfully despite the current uncertain economic outlook. The Trustees consider that there is a reasonable expectation that the Group has adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the foreseeable future. Accordingly, they continue to adopt the ‘going concern’ basis in preparing the annual report and accounts.

Reducing our impact on the environment

We are committed to reducing our environmental impact, and in particular reducing our carbon footprint. For the fourth consecutive year we have measured our environmental impact considering waste, water and energy usage. Our objective is to maximise the environmental efficiency of our buildings and work practices, reducing pollution and avoiding unnecessary costs.
Last year was our first year as the RNIB group of charities and we said that in future years we would report on our group performance. We are pleased to report that this year we are able to do so.
We are committed to sustainable development and have identified five priorities to address: zero carbon, zero waste, health and happiness, sustainable materials and sustainable transport. Having consulted across the charity we have agreed targets as follows:


Zero carbon

A reduction of 10 per cent in total carbon generated over 5 years

Zero waste

A target recycling rate of 40 per cent for 2011/12.

A target to reduce the total waste produced by the charity by 10 per cent over 5 years.

Sustainable transport

To reduce air and road travel by 2.5 per cent per annum for five years.

Sustainable materials

Developing a sustainable procurement policy.

Health and happiness

To reduce staff sickness levels and improve staff satisfaction ratings in the bi-annual staff survey.

Figures for 2010/11 will form our baseline for these targets.

We are planning a series of workshops around the UK for next year to promote our sustainable development objectives to our colleagues and to engage them in the process of becoming a sustainable organisation.
We follow the international standard ISO 14001 and are committed to continual improvement and to meeting or exceeding the requirements of applicable environmental legislation through our policies and procedures.
The table below shows the amount of carbon generated by the Charity in our buildings in the last three years.

Tonnes of CO2







This year has seen a small increase in the amount of carbon we have generated. This is attributable to an increase in consumption resulting from the rebuilding of our RNIB Pears Centre for Specialist Learning.

The energy usage in our buildings, when calculated on the basis of the floor space we occupy, equates to 332.7 kWh per square metre for the year under review; better than the UK average of 400 kWh (BioRegional Development Group).

Recently negotiated contracts for RNIB’s largest electrical consuming sites have enabled us to secure sustainable energy agreements for our two most significant sites, Judd Street and Peterborough. This agreement has certified that the electricity for these two sites is from sustainable energy sources such as wind, water and solar power generation.
The carbon generated by the other group charities in providing energy for their buildings is as follows.

Tonnes of CO2







To help us to better understand the overall impact our activities have on the environment we are also measuring the amount of carbon generated through rail and air travel. For the 2010/11 financial year this equates to 432 tonnes. We are investigating the feasibility of video conferencing to avoid unnecessary travel.

We continue to work hard to reduce the carbon footprint of our fleet of vehicles. In this financial year, the proportion of cars using fuel-efficient/low CO2 petrol/electric hybrid engines has increased to 11 per cent, and the level of uptake is increasing.

Our Peterborough site is our biggest energy user. The new heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, which is a more efficient system than the one it replaces, was switched on in October 2010. The building management system has enabled us to maintain control of, and monitor, temperatures in open plan areas providing a consistent approach.

Our Peterborough offices have also opted to substitute individual waste bins for two communal bins serving approximately 25 occupants. The effect has been to separate out paper waste, reduce the quantity of bin liners used each day by a third and to have raised consciousness with regard to waste treatment.
This year, RNIB Charity generated 1,585 tonnes (1,747 tonnes in 2010) of waste and recycled 34.5 tonnes (35.5 tonnes 2010) of CDs and their envelopes. The Charity achieved a recycling rate of 34.2 per cent (34.5 per cent in 2010) and the Group of 36.6 per cent. The small reduction in the Charity recycling rate for 2010/11 is due a fall in the amount of computer equipment recycled.
During the year we had our Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) monitoring and reporting procedures audited. Only minor recommendations were made for ongoing arrangements. We continue to promote the importance of correct disposal of WEEE to all our customers through our printed catalogues and online shop. We seek to improve the environmental performance of this equipment through its lifecycle and are committed to meeting the recommendations made by the audit.
This year our water consumption fell from 41,010 to 39,497 cubic metres per annum.
The process of reviewing our suppliers to achieve our ambition of only working with those with sound environmental principles and practices is continuing.

Signed on behalf of RNIB Trustees

Kevin Carey

RNIB Chair

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