A crowdfunding page for staff and freelancers owed money by The Pool after it fell into administration last month has quadrupled its original £24,000 target after surpassing it within a matter of days.
The Go Fund Me page, set up by literary agent Julia Kingsford, has so far raised £27,741 for the 49 staff and freelances who have declared themselves as owed money by the women’s lifestyle website.
Kingsford, who said she knows some of the staff affected, has now moved the target to £96,220. But, donations are set to close at midnight tonight.
In an update, Kingsford said: “I am going to keep raising the target as further journalists register what they’re owed, the current amount is owed to 49 staff and freelancers who have registered or been in contact with me to date.
“They also have till midnight on Monday 11th to register with the fund and we’ll then try to work out as quickly as possible once it’s closed what we can pay each of them. Thank you so much for giving so much so far.”
All of the fund will “go directly to the staff and freelancers who are owed money” and not the administrators or Kingsford, she has said.
The Pool, set up by former Cosmopolitan editor Sam Baker and BBC Radio presenter Lauren Laverne, made a loss two years in a row before it went into administration at the start of this month.
Press Gazette reported that the website froze freelance commissions and columns in January as it sought to work through a backlog of payments owed to contributors and staff.
The Pool Ltd incurred a net loss of £1.84m in the year to the end of March 2018, with net liabilities of £419,931, according to accounts filed in December 2018 with Companies House.
Editor Cate Sevilla, who joined in September 2018 and is one of the 22 journalists facing redundancy, reiterated last Thursday that she did not control The Pool’s financial woes.
She tweeted: “I did not have access to, nor was I ever in control of The Pool’s finances or accounts. I’m not a director. I didn’t control the money or have eyes on our funds/bank account.
“When I say I didn’t know about the debt or the state of our finances, I bloody well mean I did not know.”
She added: “Everything in January happened very fast and snowballed. We did not just stop commissioning once we were ‘outed’ on social media – certainly what was happening on social was a symptom and indicator of bigger problems, but it wasn’t why.”
“Believe it or not things happen internally that I can’t talk about on social media or give comment on.
“I don’t know how anyone can know ‘what really happened’ when I don’t even fucking know and I actually work there. I have a better idea now, but I certainly did not then.”
When The Pool went into administration, co-founder Baker said: “Heartbroken this morning. We tried so hard and we failed. What matters now is getting the brilliant team and freelancers paid.”
Writing in the Evening Standard last week, Laura Craik, a former freelance for The Pool, said the website still owed her £7,250.
Craik wrote: “Here are the consequences, for me, of The Pool’s closure. Overnight, I’ve lost a sizeable chunk of my regular income, as well as being owed for five months’ work.
“It wakes you up at night. It makes you anxious: a cold claw of fear that grips your stomach as you lie there wondering whether this is the thing that will finally break you.”
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