Charity sector leaders have said that they are frustrated and disappointed by the lack of support from the government, to help charities tackle the Covid-19 crisis.
Some have warned that if the government does not take immediate action to support the sector, many charities will not be able to survive the effects of the virus. This is given that there is increased demand, a lack of available staff and volunteers, and a constricted fundraising landscape.
The Scottish government has announced a £20m resilience fund for charities.
Leaders have called for sector-specific support for charities and have said that they stand to see significant falls in income.
Speaking to parliament MP Iain Duncan Smith said: “The smallest elements of the voluntary sector who have no reserves are going to lose about £400m during the course of this next few months, and they are going to be the ones that are called upon most for the support in the community to those who suffer.”
He asked Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, to take a close look at what could be done to support the sector. Sunak said that the communities secretary “is talking already to the voluntary sector and we stand ready to provide the support that may be required”.
So far, this support has not materialised. DCMS had said that it was working with charities to help coordinate a major volunteering push to support people through the virus outbreak.
The government's emergency legislation includes volunteering leave. The government also included some charity workers and volunteers in its list of key workers who can continue to send their children to school, which has been welcomed by charities.
However sector leaders have reiterated calls for emergency funding for charities struggling because of the current situation.
Vicky Browing, chief executive at ACEVO, has called for swift action and funding.
The voluntary sector cannot do what it needs to do at this time of national crisis if it has gone bust. Charities and social enterprises need swift, simple and substantial funding now. "Whatever it takes" MUST cover charities @BorisJohnson @RishiSunak https://t.co/KGKgKSVzrn— Vicky Browning (@browning_vicky) March 19, 2020
Vicky is absolutely right. The meeting last week made clear people's commitment to help, but also that charities as a whole face an existential crisis as a reduction in #fundraising income. The emergency funding being discussed has to be made real or organisations will fold. https://t.co/ZiM6yDUxsr— Peter Lewis (@piterk68) March 19, 2020
Other sector leaders have also expressed their frustrations.
Please @DCMS @RishiSunak @BorisJohnson charities can’t exist on fresh air & volunteers alone - sector is lifeline but they MUST GET CASH support now - charities have staff too #900kemployees #equality please listen to @NCVO @ACEVO @sccoalition https://t.co/rX4eyyYenU— Judith Miller (@SV_JudithMiller) March 19, 2020
We did attend this meeting and we did say we want to play our part. But @dcms @hmtreasury must address the urgent funding crisis facing charities otherwise many of the organisations who can help might not be there at the end of the year. https://t.co/osN9Xga5Yd— Matt Hyde (@matthyde) March 19, 2020
Charities employ 900,000 people. Roughly half sector's expenditure is on staff costs, predominantly health and social care (eg hospices), also children’s services.— Karl Wilding (@karlwilding) March 19, 2020
Our fundraising and trading income has ground to a halt. @ncvo is being rung by orgs that need to lay staff off. https://t.co/i0h20Xs2wH
Yesterday more than 500 small charities signed a letter to Boris Johnson, urging the government to recognise the need for financial support for the sector.
The letter states that the sector has been “overlooked” and “unsupported” during the pandemic.
Meanwhile the Scottish government and others have announced funding.
The Scottish government has released £350m to allay the impact of the virus, including £20m to a third sector resilience fund. This is to help charities with immediate cash flow problems.
Elsewhere Martin Lewis, the founder of Money Saving Expert, and the food retailer Waitrose have announced £1m funds.