Chancellor announces £750m fund for front-line charities

Aaron Chown/PA Wire/PA Images

The government will allocate £750m to support charities working on the front line of the coronavirus crisis, chancellor of the exchequer Rishi Sunak announced yesterday (8 April).

The funding – which includes a £360m pot that will be allocated to charities directly from government departments and a £370m allocation for smaller charities, including those delivering food and medication – will help charities to continue operating during this challenging period, alongside other schemes to keep their staff employed, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Many larger charities such as Oxfam and Age UK have furloughed swathes of their workforce in order to minimise costs while their incomes have been hit by the crisis.

Sunak said: “Charities can already use many of our existing schemes to support people and protect their staff. All charities are eligible for the job retention scheme, and in line with medical advice, and just like any other employer, the right answer for many charities will be to furlough their employees.

“But some charities are on the front line of fighting the coronavirus, and others provide critical services and support to vulnerable people and communities. For them, shutting up shop at this moment would be to contravene their very purpose; their entire reason to exist.

“Those charities have never been more needed than they are now; and they’ve never faced such a sudden fall in their funding.”

The announcement followed a number of other measures to support organisations, including charities, that were unveiled last month, such as the options to defer VAT bills and pay no business rates on their shops next year.

The charities the government intended to support with funding included:

  • hospices, to help increase capacity
  • St Johns Ambulance, to support the NHS
  • victims charities, including domestic abuse, to help with potential increase in demand
  • vulnerable children charities
  • Citizens Advice, to increase the number of staff providing advice to the public.

Tracey Bleakley, CEO of charity Hospice UK, said the funding would allow hospices to keep providing beds, specialist clinical care and staffing to relieve pressure on the NHS.

“Hospice UK is delighted that the government is providing up to £200m of funding per quarter to hospices to help support the NHS and respond to the Covid-19 emergency. This unprecedented funding recognises the vital role that hospices play in supporting the NHS in its fight against Covid-19,” she said.

James Taylor, executive director at disability equality charity Scope, said: “At Scope, we’ve seen the need for our services increase. We’re helping thousands of disabled people and their families with benefit claims, dealing with drops in income, providing support on isolation and loneliness and helping with access to basics like food. At the same time, our income has dried up.

“We sincerely hope this allows the charity sector to continue having an impact on the lives of millions of people in this country.”

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