The government has no plans for a second dedicated emergency coronavirus funding package for charities, the minister said this morning.
Charity leaders have been pushing for further grants to support the sector, but Baroness Barran, minister for civil society, said that there were no plans for “another dedicated package”.
She was answering questions online at the launch of new research into the role of small charities during the pandemic, published by the Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales (LBFEW).
Charities face a ‘cliff edge’
Duncan Shrubsole, LBFEW’s director of policy, communications and research, asked Barran whether there would be measures to help the sector in next month’s budget, given the financial “cliff edge” facing charities which have to spend existing emergency funds by the end of March.
The minister said: “The government really did do what we could to protect the work of charities over the last year, whether it was giving charity workers key worker status from the get go, allowing volunteering through the pandemic, and obviously the £750m was the first targeted package which was announced by the government, as well as obviously all the cross-sector schemes.
“I am not trying to suggest this is about generous or not generous, it is just about doing the right thing in recognising the value of the sector.”
No new emergency package
Last week the #NeverMoreNeeded coalition published an open letter to the prime minister asking for an emergency support fund for the sector. They also launched the #RightNow campaign highlighting the role charities play.
Barran said she was aware of “concerns in the sector” but added that the government’s “main focus is on, How can we get the economy open again?”
She said: “That is why the prime minister’s speech yesterday was so important, because we do now have a path exiting from that [lockdown].
“Organisations can now start to think about public fundraising again, reopening charity retail and so forth.
“It might need to look a little bit different, but charity is nothing if not agile and creative in that regard.”
Referencing reforms to the Social Value Act and proposed changes to procurement rules, Barran said: “There are doors that we can lean on that open up money.
“But if you are asking me whether there will be another dedicated package, my understanding is no.”
'The government has turned its back on charities'
Rachael Maskell MP, Labour’s shadow civil society minister, said: “The government has turned its back on thousands of charities who have stepped up to play a pivotal role throughout this pandemic. With fundraising and trading stopped, organisations have had to sell their assets, use up their reserves and make staff redundant.
“We believe charities and voluntary organisations have a leading role in supporting people right now and in the recovery of communities across the country. Instead, they are being forced to make significant cuts to their support and services.”
Editor's note 24 February
This story has been updated to include response from the shadow minister.