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Government publishes more details on coronavirus funding

04 May 2020 News

Fergus Burnett

The government has announced how much emergency coronavirus funding some departments will have to distribute to charities.

The Treasury announced last month that charities would receive £750m to handle the impact of the pandemic, and government departments have now released some of their priorities for distributing their share of the funds.   

More than £26m has been allocated to the Department for Education, for distribution to charities in England focused on work with vulnerable families including disabled children and children leaving care, according to a press statement over the weekend. The telephone advice service for young people, Childline, will receive funds to support its work across the UK.

A focus on domestic abuse

Another £25m will be spent by the Ministry of Justice to help charities in England and Wales working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse.

The Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government will provide £10m to safe accommodation services in England, including charities in England working with families fleeing their homes to escape domestic abuse.

The Home Office will distribute just under £4m to local domestic abuse services and organisations fighting modern slavery in England and Wales, and £7.8m to support charities helping children who are at risk of sexual abuse or criminal exploitation.

Silence on small charity funding

This funding is to be drawn from a total of £360m which will be distributed directly to charities by government departments. It is not clear whether any charities have yet received funds.

There have not been any further detailed updates about the system for distributing a further £370m to small charities, which is being handled in England by the National Lottery Community Fund. A government minister told parliament on 1 May that he expects the funding “to be operational shortly”.

The announcement is a sign that departments across Whitehall have now agreed their funding with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. Oliver Dowden, culture minister, had previously told MPs that his officials had been sorting through bids from other departments that exceeded the funding available.

Help from small business grants

The government has also announced a change to the rules on emergency grants for small businesses, which would make some of these grants available to charities for the first time.

Alok Sharma, business secretary, said that local councils will now have the discretion to make grants of up to £25,000 to small charities which own properties and would normally meet the criteria for small business rates relief. Under the previous rules, organisations claiming charity status did not qualify for the grants.

Small charities may be considered if they employ fewer than 50 people and can show “a significant drop in income” as a result of the pandemic, Sharma said.

Lobbying

The announcement comes after a lobbying effort led by the Charity Tax Group, which contacted government departments last week to make the case for opening up the scheme to charities.

CTG said in a statement on its website: “While this funding is at the discretion of local authorities, this is a welcome announcement for small charities that should ensure some are able to access funding that has unattainable to date.”

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