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Crowdfunding page set up to raise funds for staff and freelances owed money by The Pool following its closure

A crowdfunding page has been set up to raise money for the 24 staff facing redundancy and freelances still owed money after The Pool went into administration last night.

The women’s lifestyle website, which was set up by BBC presenter Lauren Laverne and former Cosmopolitan and Red editor Sam Baker, had been working through a backlog of late payments to freelance staff.

Press Gazette reported last month that it had frozen commissions and columns as a result of its pay issues. The Pool Ltd had made a loss for two years running, according to accounts filed with Companies House.

A Go Fund Me page, created this morning by literary agency boss Julia Kingsford, has so far raised nearly £2,000 of an arbitrary £24,000 target which will go towards affected Pool staff.

Kingsford claims to know “many of the staff and freelances” at The Pool and said at least one of her clients was still owed money. She said freelances still hadn’t been paid for “months worth of commissions” and staff have not received their wages for January.

She said: “All money raised here will go directly to the staff and freelancers who are owed money.”

The Pool’s staff only found out about its closure yesterday evening.

Editor Cate Sevilla, who joined in September last year, tweeted at 11pm last night that she was “absolutely gutted”. She is one of 22 journalists now facing redundancy.

She said: “This has been an extremely frustrating situation, and I’m heartbroken and fucked off. For my team. For our freelancers. For our readers. I always wanted to work at The Pool, and I can’t quite believe what’s happened.”

Co-founder Baker said in a tweet this morning that she was “heartbroken”.

“We tried so hard and we failed,” she said. “What matters now is getting the brilliant team and freelancers paid.

“If you’re hiring I know some bloody excellent people. Not a single one past or present I wouldn’t give a glowing reference.”

The Pool Ltd incurred a net loss of £1.84m in the year to the end of March 2018 – following a £1.36m loss the year before – with net liabilities of £419,931, according to a financial statement filed in December 2018.

Company director Dominic Hill told staff in an email, reported by The Guardian, that he had no choice but to put The Pool into administration. He said: “As a director and shareholder, I have a duty to do this as the business is now insolvent and we have exhausted all rescue ideas/plans.”

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