What’s the issue?
- Millions of people across the UK and beyond depend on services provided by charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises. The survival of these services is now threatened by the COVID19 crisis, at the very time they are most needed. These include charities offering critical services including hospice care; refuge from domestic abuse; safeguarding at-risk children; care for cancer patients; services for the homeless or people with housing problems; and food banks.
- The crisis and lockdown have drastically increased demand on many charities, whilst simultaneously turning off the funding which supports them almost overnight. Public fundraising and revenues from trading (for example charity shops) have declined sharply, with no prospect of these returning for months.
- Most charities do not have substantial savings or ‘reserves’ in cash to support them through such dramatic disruption. Many are already in extreme difficulty and will start to close down soon at short notice, leaving thousands of people at risk and statutory agencies under even greater pressure during this crisis.
What impact is the COVID-19 crisis having, or will this have on your beneficiaries?
“Our young people don’t have their social, safe space to come and meet, they don’t get their free and subsidised meals and support from staff as readily.” Gayle Harris, Carmarthen Youth Project
“No face to face services for the visually impaired like low vision assessments, access to benefits, family support and emotional support. This means that we struggle to keep them at home and independent.” David Mckeigue, Open Sight Hampshire
“Our members are not able to have the oxygen treatment and regular therapies that they rely on that helps with the symptoms of MS and other neurological conditions.” Mary McDermott, Mercia MS Therapy Centre
What do we need to do to fix it?
- The charity sector needs urgent and substantial financial assistance from the UK government. 100 small charities have already had to close down just in the past few weeks. Even larger organisations are now furloughing thousands of staff on a daily basis.
- No charity has a right to exist – this is about preserving vital services that millions of people depend upon, during a social and economic crisis. Leading representative bodies have calculated that the charity sector will lose at least £4 BILLION over a twelve-week social lockdown. The figure will be even higher if social distancing restrictions are not eased by June.
- The Chancellor’s announcement of a £750 million funding package on 8 April 2020 is insufficient, and represents less than 1% of the amount of financial support the government has made available to business. Much of this funding appears to have been redirected from existing departmental spending; details remain unclear about what impact that might have on other important programmes.
What should the Government do to keep charitable services from collapsing?
Much of the assistance for business announced by the Chancellor is simply not available to charities or is or is ill-suited to them because it is not designed for them. Government should immediately:
- Establish a multi-billion pound ‘COVID19 Response Fund’ to help charities respond directly to the crisis; e.g. organise volunteers, support health and social care.
- Establish a multi-billion pound emergency ‘Stabilisation Fund’ to help charities of all kinds to stay afloat and continue to provide key services during the pandemic.
These funds should provide rapidly allocated, accessible grant funding, free of complex or restrictive criteria, and should use existing distribution mechanisms and experienced grant-makers (for example, the National Lottery Community Fund, local Community Foundations, and other expert grant-making foundations).
- Revise current COVID19-related schemes designed for business to work better for charities. Including, as a priority:
- Coronavirus Job Support Scheme: relax the rules to enable furloughed charity workers to be redeployed as volunteers for their employer; enable charities who have suffered a reduction of greater than 30% of income to claim loss of income based on last three years’ accounts (and budget for current financial year)
- Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS): to be eligibleorganisations must generate 50% of income from trading, not including public funding. Treasury must urgently clarify that ‘trading’ includes all income irrespective of intention to generate ‘profit’ and ‘public funding’ does not include lottery funding.
What can I do to help?
- Write to your MP, and ask them to write to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak MP with the three demands above. Find a template letter at www.dsc.org.uk
- Contact influential people you may know – ask them to do the same
- Speak to local and national media about the impact COVID19 is having on your charity and the people you serve. Find a template press release at www.dsc.org.uk
- Tweet your story and support for the campaign at #EveryDayCounts
- Find more information and resources at www.cfg.org.uk/EveryDayCountsAction