As the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to develop, new information and advice is circulating rapidly. To help keep you and your charity moving, we have looked at the latest updates and clarifications to the Government guidance.
Charity support package
On Wednesday 8 April, the Chancellor announced that charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak. This £750 million pot is for frontline charities across the UK and will include:
- £360 million direct from government departments - to help increase capacity and give stability to the sector (in particular to hospices, the St Johns Ambulance to support the NHS, victims charities, vulnerable children charities & Citizens Advice)
- £370 million for smaller charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund - this will support those organisations at the heart of local communities which are making a big difference during the outbreak, including those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice.
- £20 million pledge to match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month.
The announcement is welcome news to all those in the charity sector, but currently falls short of the amount of income anticipated to be lost by charities due to the coronavirus outbreak, which the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) estimates is at least £4.3 billion of income over the next 12 weeks.
We will continue to review the guidance as it is announced, but the key questions for charities will be: whether they are eligible for the financial support, how much funding will they be entitled to claim and over what period and how quickly will they receive it? The Government press release notes that “Departments will now work at pace to identify priority recipients, with the aim for charities to receive money in the coming weeks. The application system for the National Lottery Community Fund grant pot is expected to be operational within a similar period of time”. Find out more here.
Latest Government guidance
The Government has provided a very helpful summary of all the guidance and help available to charities during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak on its website. This website it regularly updated and covers key topics including:
- Understanding if you can help with coronavirus efforts (charity objects)
- Government financial support for charities
- Using reserves and restricted funds
- AGMs and other meetings: postponing or cancelling meetings
- Holding meetings online or by telephone
- Reporting serious incidents to the Charity Commission
- Keeping people safe
- Working with a company or business to help with coronavirus
- Charity SORP guidance
- Information from other organisations
Find out more from the Government website - click here.
Find out more from Charities SORP - click here.
Assistance for fundraising
Fundraising is key to many charities and the current situation may have resulted in key fundraising events being cancelled or postponed and charities will be concerned about how they will be able to maintain their income to support the charitable activities over the coming months. The below link provides advice about what to consider with regards to your fundraising and new funds to help with the anticipated loss of income. Find out more here.
What help is available from the Government?
The Government has also said that charities can access many of the measures the Chancellor previously announced for businesses. Information on these schemes, together with examples and further guidance can be found on our website. Specific guidance can be found on:
- COVID-19 job retention scheme, guidance for furloughing workers: All UK businesses, including charities and social enterprises, are eligible.
- Business rates and cash grants to small businesses: Abolition of the charge for one year for all shops, restaurants, cinemas and music venues with rateable values below £51,000.
- VAT: deferral of quarterly VAT payments.
- Small business grant scheme: Small businesses based in England are eligible for a one-off grant of £10,000 to help meet ongoing business costs.
- Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme: Small and medium-sized UK businesses may be able to access bank lending and overdrafts.
- HMRC time to pay scheme: UK businesses may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs.
Find out more here.
Additional help available from the Government?
Under the small business grant fund (SBGF) noted above, all eligible businesses in England in receipt of either small business rates relief or rural rates relief in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.
In addition, under the retail, hospitality and leisure grant (RHLG) eligible businesses in England in receipt of the expanded retail discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.
Charities which would meet the criteria for the SBGF but whose bill had been reduced to £nil by a local discretionary award (charitable rate relief) should still be considered to be eligible for the RHLG.
Central government will provide funding to local authorities that are responsible for business rate billing, so both these schemes will be delivered by local authorities. Find out more here.
For further news and announcements please visit our dedicated webpage here.