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Over 8,000 government grants now allocated from emergency coronavirus fund

13 Nov 2020 News

Oliver Dowden, culture secretary

More than 8,000 small charities in England have been awarded funds from the government’s emergency coronavirus scheme.

The government said that it has now allocated the full £200m from the Coronavirus Community Support Fund (CCSF), which has been managed by the National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF).

However, NLCF was unable to say whether all the charities allocated grants have yet received that funding.

The Treasury first pledged the money in April this year.

Minister: Fund helps 'millions of vulnerable people'

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said that the fund has now “been fully allocated”.

In total, 8,250 small and medium-sized charities have received grants, according to a statement.

Oliver Dowden, the culture secretary, said: “Charities are there when we need them the most, and this emergency funding has kept their doors open during the biggest crisis for a generation. 

“Our £200m Coronavirus Community Support Fund has reached thousands of worthy causes in communities across the country, ensuring they can be there for millions of vulnerable people and families.”

Lottery: Charities have responded magnificently

Dawn Austwick, the chief executive at the NLCF, said: “Communities and charities across the country have responded magnificently to the Covid-19 crisis, and those who have benefited from the CCSF funding that we have distributed encapsulate the generosity, spirit and expert knowledge that we have all seen in our local neighbourhoods. 

“From the community cafes that have turned into food distribution hubs, to the counsellors and peer mentors who have moved their services online, to those offering advice and support to people struggling with debt or dealing with grief: they have all inspired and moved us in equal measure. 

“We will continue to support communities, thanks to money raised by National Lottery players to support as much of this vital work going forward as we can.”

Cash for carers and foodbanks

Charities receiving grants from the CCSF include Beacon South Yorkshire, which received a £10,000 grant to provide counselling for unpaid carers, and Selnet, which received £70,000 to provide digital devices and internet access to older vulnerable adults in Lancashire.

FC United received a £35,000 grant to help expand their food hub and give out supplies to people who were isolated from their communities. 

Sheila Owen, the chair of trustees at Beacon South Yorkshire, said: “Due to the pandemic we have seen a huge surge in carers needing our support due to diminishing mental health during the lockdown.”

Owen added: “The funding will also enable us to expand the counselling service to deal with future needs as we expand across South Yorkshire.”

Still waiting for clarity

However, it is unclear if some charities are still waiting to receive money, more than seven months after support was pledged by the Treasury.

Referring to CCSF, NLCF said over the summer that it “should be finished distributing these funds by the end of October 2020”. However, it declined to answer whether the full fund had been distributed to charities by this deadline. A spokesperson would only say that the fund had been “awarded in line with our commitments”.

The NLCF and the culture secretary had repeatedly promised to distribute money to charities “at pace”.

A troubled scheme

A scheme worth £200m to help small and medium-sized charities in England deal with the coronavirus crisis was announced by chancellor Rishi Sunak on 8 April, as part of a £750m support package for the sector.

The government and NLCF were initially criticised for a six-week delay in opening the CCSF for applications, and were then accused of further “dithering and delay” in making the first grants from the scheme.

It later emerged that the private auditing firm PwC had been given a £1.4m government contract to “vet” some of NLCF’s funding decisions, a process one charity leader called “as clear as mud”.

DCMS referred all queries to NLCF.

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