After weeks of campaigning by leading charities and MPs from all parties, Chancellor Rishi Sunak finally announced today a £750 million package of support intended to keep front-line charity services going during the COVID19 pandemic.
Sadly, it won’t be enough to prevent thousands of vital services across the country from closing down at short notice, leaving people in desperate need. 100 small charities have already closed their doors just in the past few weeks.
Sunak had already outlined financial support of up to £330 billion for businesses affected by the pandemic. In response, he produced a financial package amounting to less than 1% of that amount – worse, it’s not even clear the extent to which this funding has been cannibalised from existing central government budgets that might already be funding critically important services.
Part of the package does include £370m for smaller charities, to be delivered by a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund, but the other main element is ‘£360m direct from government departments’. It’s entirely possible that this money will simply be taken away from important existing programmes and redirected to activities deemed to be directly related to the current emergency.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has calculated that the charity sector is facing a funding black hole of at least £4 billion over the next three months, as fundraising and trading revenues have dried up almost overnight.
Generous contributions from the public, for example via the National Emergencies Trust, as well as from philanthropists and other funders, will simply not be enough to make up the difference – despite the Chancellor’s announcement that the Government will match money raised through the Big Night In event scheduled for 23 April.
Debra Allcock Tyler, CEO of the charity Directory of Social Change, said: ‘It’s nowhere near enough. Not even close. In fact it’s a whopping £3.5bn short. This isn’t about charities surviving and it isn’t just about the coronavirus emergency either – it’s about saving people’s lives. Women are dying right now because they are cooped up in lockdown with abusive partners. Older people are at risk of starving to death because they can’t get enough food, or of dying alone because their social support has disappeared. Children and young people are at risk of taking their own lives because of anxiety about what’s happening in society. This offer tells us that business matters more than vulnerable citizens. Charities save lives, preserve lives, protect lives, enhance lives. So it’s not even good economics – when there are not enough charities to support people the state will have to pick up the bill anyway.’
Notes to editors:
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The Directory of Social Change surveyed charities about the impact of COVID19 on the people they help. The findings were shocking:
- Half of charities surveyed said they were already in financial difficulties due to the pandemic, with another 42% expecting to be soon;
- Over 60% of charities who responded are furloughing staff under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme;
- Just 7% of charities surveyed said they qualified for CBILS – the Business Interruption Loan Scheme, with just under half saying they did not qualify and over 40% saying they didn’t know;
- Over half of charity respondents say they will go bust within six months without additional financial help;
- Over 70% of charities surveyed report that they will go bust before the end of 2020 without additional financial help.
Respondents also provided over 200 heart-breaking stories of the immediate and long term impacts on their beneficiaries
As published by dsc