Charity policy round-up: April 2020

This month started with the welcome announcement by the chancellor of a £750m support package for charities.

More details are available my blog post about the chancellor’s announcement.

We have been clear that this funding is an important step, but it will not be enough to prevent good charities around the country from closing their doors. Even many that survive will look very different in a few months’ time, with a severely reduced capacity to provide the support that people rely on.

So we are continuing to work with colleagues across the sector and talking to officials in key government departments to make sure charities receive the support they need, so they can keep serving the public.

Additional information about funding

We are still waiting for the National Lottery Community Fund to publish the eligibility criteria and open up applications for the funding. We expect this to happen very soon given the urgency.

But since the announcement there have been a number of other useful updates:

  • The government has announced loneliness is to be a priority category.
  • An additional package of £200m has been made available for international development.
  • The Home Office is providing up to £2m to enhance online support services and helplines for domestic abuse.
  • A new scheme of bounce back loans has been announced. Unlike in previous announcements, charities were not explicitly mentioned as being eligible to apply but we expect to receive confirmation that they are.
  • The British Business Bank has clarified that charities eligible to apply for the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) are exempt from the requirement that 50% of their income must be derived from trading activity.

We have put together a list of all the other funding opportunities for charities.

Further information is also available on the webinar we ran a webinar jointly with Bates Wells and the Charity Finance Group on Financing and your charity: Navigating the government schemes, managing solvency.

A recording of the webinar is still accessible by registering.

Lords’ debate on challenges facing charities

The House of Lords held a debate on the challenges facing charities on Thursday 30 April. This was called by Lord Addington and was a virtual proceeding.

This Twitter thread summarises all the key points raised by peers:

You can also read NCVO’s briefing for the Lords’ debate here.

Volunteering and furloughing

Since the government’s job retention scheme was announced, many charities have been making difficult decisions about furloughing their staff. This is made more challenging by the fact that HMRC’s guidance on the job retention scheme expressly prohibits furloughed employees from doing any work for their organisation. That includes volunteering.

We’ve published a blog post setting out our understanding of the guidance so far and what it means for volunteering.

Useful guidance from key charity regulators

Since the beginning of the crisis, the Charity Commission has demonstrated a pragmatic and proportionate approach to regulation, accompanied by the publication of helpful guidance for charities.

Over the past month, the Commission has:

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has also published a document setting out its regulatory approach during the coronavirus pandemic, and indicating its aim to be a ‘pragmatic and empathetic regulator’. In particular, it includes the ICO’s recognition that the current reduction in organisations’ resources could impact their ability to comply with aspects of data protection law.

And the Fundraising Regulator has published short guidance on setting up a coronavirus appeal.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee inquiries on the impact of covid-19

Following the remote evidence session on the impact of covid-19 on charities, where NCVO appeared with St John Ambulance and the Motor Neurone Disease Association, the committee has launched a wider inquiry into the impact of covid-19 on the industries and organisations that fall within its remit. This includes not only charities and civil society, but also the cultural and creative industries, sport, tourism, heritage, publishing, media, journalism and telecoms.

The committee requests that responses be submitted by 1 May if possible, and it expects to hold evidence sessions from late April into May.

The Secretary of State Oliver Dowden has already given evidence to the committee, and provided some useful information about how government funding will be prioritised.

Read our blog post on the key things we learned from the hearing.

 

 

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Elizabeth Chamberlain Elizabeth is head of policy and public services at NCVO. She has been part of the policy team since 2008, as the expert on charity law and regulation. Her policy interests also include charity campaigning, the sector’s independence, transparency, and accountability.

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