Over 500 small charities tell PM they have been 'overlooked'

19 Mar 2020 News

Boris Johnson

Flickr: Financial Times http://bit.ly/2eUjfIy

Small charities have told the prime minister that they feel “unsupported” by the government's coronavirus response. 

The Small Charities Coalition (SCC) has sent 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.

So far, it has more than 500 signatures. 

The SCC said it is “increasingly concerned about the lack of government recognition and action with regards to the charitable sector, its delivery of services during this critical period as well as the sector's current and future funding”. 

The letter reads: “The Small Charities Coalition and our 13,800 members recognise these are unprecedented times. The UK government has announced substantial financial measures to support the business sector during the Covid-19 crisis, but once again the charity and not-for-profit organisations have been overlooked.  

“We are writing as not-for-profit organisations, charities and funders in the UK who are deeply concerned and worried about the apparent failure of the UK government to recognise the need for financial support for the not-for-profit sector at this critical time.

“There are almost 180,000 registered charities in the UK and thousands of not-for-profit organisations. We have been collectively ignored and left unsupported during this critical period, yet we have stepped up to the challenge of providing continued support and assistance to those in great need, even when our own organisations are at risk.

“We would ask that you look as a matter of urgency into making public commitments that offer financial stability for the not-for-profit sector, just as you have done for the business sector.

“Furthermore, we request that such measures are of equal measure, ease of access and reach to those provided for other sectors, and that you commit to checking and ensuring that all current and future policies and plans include an assessment of their impact on all charities and not-for-profit organisations.

“We trust that this will meet with a favourable response and ask for further engagement to support the development of the UK government's plans for our sector.”

On Tuesday evening the chancellor said there would be support for charities, but details of the package have not yet been published. 

CIVICUS: ‘We must nurture civic space and its resourceful actors’

Elsewhere, CIVICUS, the global alliance of civil society organisations, has sent an open letter calling for donors and intermediaries providing support for civil society to offer as much flexibility, certainty and stability towards grantees and partners as possible. 

The letter reads: “As the global response to the Covid-19 pandemic unfolds, civil society organisations across the world are taking proactive measures to protect the health and wellbeing of their staff and partners. This includes necessary shifts in strategy, reprioritisation, and adjustments in programming and outreach. 

“At the same time, civil society infrastructure is under visible and immense financial pressure. Projects have been postponed, deliverables delayed and energies diverted to making alternative plans. Major events have been cancelled at significant financial loss. Funds have been (rightly) redirected from planned activities to Covid-19 responses. Reserves - when they exist - are limited and will soon be depleted.”

Given this, the letter asks that donors and intermediaries offer “as much flexibility, certainty and stability towards grantees and partners as possible”, and outlines five specific ways this can be done.

“CIVICUS will continue advocating for a robust civic space, including measures that enable civil society to mobilise with and for the groups most affected by the coronavirus pandemic. In these critical times, we must nurture civic space and its resourceful actors by expanding relevance and resilience, not reducing it. We must also be mindful that the present moment could also be used as an opportunity by some actors to further restrict the civic space,” the letter adds.

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