UK

Coronavirus: Government funding 'not enough' to keep some charities afloat

Rishi Sunak Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the measures on Wednesday

The government's £750m package to support charities through the coronavirus pandemic will not be enough to prevent some being forced to close, organisations have warned.

While many charities welcomed the funding, some said more was needed.

Charities have seen their income shrink because of enforced shop closures and cancelled fundraising events.

Government measures involve cash grants direct to charities providing key services during the crisis.

As part of the scheme, announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Wednesday, £360m will be directly allocated by government departments to those charities.

Another £370m will go to small local charities, including those delivering food and essential medicines and providing financial advice.

Tens of thousands of charities are expected to benefit, including hospices, St John's Ambulance and services for vulnerable children and domestic abuse victims.

Karl Wilding, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said charities were estimated to lose around £4bn in 12 weeks because of the coronavirus outbreak.

He said the government funding was "an important first 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," he added.

'Sticking plaster'

Macmillan Cancer Support chief executive Lynda Thomas also said the support did not go far enough.

"We are deeply concerned this commitment fails to recognise the scale of the challenge," she said.

"It won't prevent many of the nation's charities cutting the support they provide when it is needed most, or even being forced to close."

And children's charity Barnardo's said the package was "little more than a sticking plaster".

Chief executive Javed Khan said demand for the charity's services was "skyrocketing" and urged the government to keep the measures under review.

However, Tracey Bleakley, chief executive of Hospice UK, said her organisation was "delighted" with the "unprecedented funding".

Labour's shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said, while the funding announcement was welcome, "it falls far short of filling the financial black hole many organisations are facing".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Events such as the London Marathon, which has been postponed, are big earners for charities

The government has also promised to match all donations to the BBC's Big Night In fundraising event on 23 April, pledging a minimum of £20m.

Announcing the measures, Mr Sunak said the government could not match every pound of spending that the UK's 170,000 charities would have received this year.

He said charities were also eligible for help through the government's job retention scheme, which allows employees to be put on furlough - a leave of absence - with 80% of their wages reimbursed by a grant from the government.

But he did acknowledge that this was not an option open to those charities that need to play a particular role in supporting people through the lockdown.

Bigger charities such as Oxfam and Age UK have already furloughed two-thirds of staff.

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