Small charities warn PM of closures as pledged £100m yet to be paid out

20 Jun 2023 News

Official portrait of Rishi Sunak

Chris McAndrew / UK Parliament

Representatives from small charities have warned the prime minister that “the tide of demand threatens to overwhelm” them as the £100m previously announced for the sector is yet to be distributed.

In a letter to Rishi Sunak set to be delivered on Thursday, local charities said that they were “exhausted, burnt out” and that the mental health of their staff and volunteers was “suffering”.

The letter, which coincides with Small Charity Week, invites Sunak to visit small charities “so you can fully understand the critical role these organisations play” and to meet the Small Charities Advisory Panel to “discuss sustainable solutions”.

Meanwhile, the Lloyds Bank Foundation called on the government to clarify “when, how and to whom” the £100m it announced for charities in the spring budget would be distributed.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said it aimed to open applications for the £100m funding pot this summer, as it was currently finalising delivery time frames and eligibility criteria.

‘More support needed’

The signatories of the letter welcomed the government’s £100m package for charities but said that “there is much more to do”. 

“During this Small Charity Week, we want to highlight the critical role which small charities are playing in communities and encourage you to further demonstrate your support for these vital organisations,” it reads.

“In recent years we have encountered crisis after crisis – from Covid-19, to supporting refugees fleeing conflict, to now helping with cost-of-living pressures. We have stepped up and stepped in, filling gaps in public services or using our specialist local knowledge, to ensure that communities are safe, supported and reassured. Small, local charities are deeply embedded in their communities and form lasting relationships which have far-reaching positive outcomes.”

They warned Sunak that if small charities are not supported during these “difficult times, we risk losing a crucial national asset”.

“Every day, small charities are closing or reducing services. We are exhausted, burnt out and the mental health of our staff and volunteers is suffering.”

They added: “We truly hope that one day many of us will not be needed. And that we will proudly close our doors for the right reasons, knowing we have achieved our visions. 

“In the meantime, we do not want platitudes, we want to be heard, especially as your government continues to make important spending decisions.”

Lloyds Bank Foundation: £100m must be backed by ‘longer-term change’

Lloyds Bank Foundation, which has been supporting Small Charity Week since the recent closure of the Foundation for Social Improvement, called on Sunak to back the £100m funding envelope by “longer-term change”. 

This, it said, could include continuing support for small charities to meet their energy bills and costs and ensuring that local authorities have sufficient resources to fund local services.  
Duncan Shrubsole, director of policy, communications and research at Lloyds Bank Foundation, said: “Time and again we’ve seen the value that small charities add to our communities, throughout the pandemic and the cost-of-living crisis. As more and more people are struggling to make ends meet charities have been there for people with nowhere else to turn to. These charities have kept people safe, cared for their health and wellbeing, provided a place to stay, food, warmth, and showers.

“Yet these same charities are facing their own crisis as funding sources dwindle. We need better support for small charities right across the funding landscape from putting social value at the heart of commissioning and procurement of public services to providing long-term, flexible and unrestricted funding and adequately resourcing small and local charities.”

DCMS ‘finalising delivery time frames’ of £100m funding

A spokesperson for DCMS said: “The £100m package announced as part of the spring budget will ensure frontline charities and community organisations can continue their vital work to support some of the most vulnerable people in society.

“We are working at pace to finalise the delivery time frames, delivery partner and eligibility criteria, with the aim of opening the application process for the critical support funding this summer.”

Small charities have until 5pm on Wednesday 21 June to sign the letter to the prime minister.

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