A former government adviser on civil society has called for "a fund in the low billions" to help charities survive the coronavirus crisis.
Danny Kruger, who has worked as a Downing Street special adviser and was the author of the government’s Civil Society Strategy in 2019, praised the Treasury’s work so far but said that the "biggest gap" in the government’s bailout plans was the absence of a package for charities.
Kruger, who was elected as the Conservative MP for Devizes at last year’s general election, also recommended that any new fund should be distributed through community foundations.
Charities are on the frontline
Writing on Twitter yesterday evening, Kruger said: "Treasury has done an incredible job to rescue the formal economy: most businesses, workers and self-employed have had a lifeline. The biggest gap now – and it stretches right along the front line of all our neighbourhoods – is the social economy: charities and community groups."
Charities are "crucial in the fight against coronavirus," Kruger added. "They will pick up the pieces, the things made worse by this pandemic – the mental health, the domestic violence, the child abuse, the loneliness, the family breakdown, the rough sleeping, the learning difficulties, the addiction, not to mention the dying and bereaved."
Referring to the existing government scheme to cover 80% of salary costs when placing staff on leave, he said that charities "can’t furlough their staff – they’re needed more than ever. And so far they’ve had nothing from government".
He concluded: "So right now they need government. We need a fund, in the low £billions, to distribute (I suggest via community foundation, county-based trusts with robust governance) to small charities which are working with vulnerable people in our communities; and support for national orgs too."
HM Treasury has done an incredible job to rescue the formal economy: most businesses, workers & self-employed have had a lifeline. The biggest gap now - and it stretches right along the front line of all our neighbourhoods - is the social economy: charities & community groups. 1/— Danny Kruger (@danny__kruger) April 2, 2020
Fresh call for London
Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, has also renewed his call for emergency funding to help charities in the capital.
In an open letter to the chancellor Rishi Sunak, Khan warned that London’s charities "are becoming more stretched each day" as they respond to the coronavirus crisis.
Khan demanded six "immediate actions" from the Treasury:
- The allocation of emergency funding to cover core costs at charities and meet increased demand for their services.
- The extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover salaries for charity staff continuing in frontline jobs.
- Flexible funding to meet governance costs as well as service delivery.
- The distribution of funds from the National Emergency Trust which recognises ‘the scale’ of the response in London.
- Dedicated funding for charities helping those on the lowest incomes.
- A role for the London Community Response Fund in receiving and distributing national funds.
Khan said: “I welcome the inclusion of charities and other civil society organisations in the government’s measures to protect salaries and prevent redundancy.
"But more must be done to ensure the charitable sector has access to the same amount of financial support as the business sector. I am therefore adding my voice to the over 300 MPs and peers of all parties asking you to act now to protect the sector’s ability to operate during this period of immense uncertainty."