Local councils leaders have called for an urgent package of government support for the voluntary and community sector.
A letter, which is addressed to the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government and the secretary of state for digital, culture, media and sport, warns that the sustainability of many organisations is at risk.
It was sent by members of the Keep it Local Network, a group of councils. It is convened by Locality, the national membership network for local community organisations, in partnership with Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales.
The letter calls for a package of support given “the unprecedented emergency” Covid-19 is creating.
The letter reads: “As local authorities, we know just how vital our local community organisations are – both in providing an immediate response, but also to support our neighbourhoods in the difficult months and years ahead. Put simply, the fabric of our civil society is at threat.”
The letter states that the signatories are “deeply concerned” that without significant intervention, charities will not be able to continue to play their critical role.
“They are facing significant financial loss, reductions in staff and volunteers, and possible closure – all at a time when their communities will need them most.
“There is an urgent need to address how this crisis is impacting the sustainability of the community sector. The financial sustainability of local community organisations is being threatened on multiple fronts,” the letter reads.
It asks for financial support from the government and other funders. It asks government to support community organisations in two key ways.
'Do whatever it takes'
First, to provide clear guidance on how the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme affects staff who might be furloughed, but want to remain working as volunteers to keep essential services going, and secondly for an emergency grant package to support VCSE organisations with cash flow to continue delivery during this crisis.
“We are calling on government to do whatever it takes to support our local community organisations so we can work together to overcome the immediate crisis and begin to build our way out the other side,” it states.
The full list of signatories is as follows:
- Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, leader, Bradford Metropolitan District Council
- Kersten England, chief executive, Bradford Metropolitan District Council
- Marvin Rees, mayor, Bristol Council
- Cllr Tim Swift, leader, Calderdale Council
- Robin Tuddenham, chief executive, Calderdale Council
- Philip Glanville, mayor, Hackney Council
- Cllr Shabir Pandor, leader, Kirklees Council
- Cllr Jonathan Slater, cabinet member for the Community Sector, Lewisham Council
- Cllr Nick Forbes, leader, Newcastle City Council
- Cllr Sean Fielding, leader, Oldham Council
- Dr Carolyn Wilkins OBE, chief executive, Oldham Council
- Cllr Chris Read, leader, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council
- Cllr Janette Williamson, cabinet member for Finance and Resources, Wirral Council
- Paul Satoor, chief executive, Wirral Council
Latest news, analysis and advice about the coronavirus for charities and social enterprises.