Today the Chancellor announced a £750million support package for frontline charities tackling COVID-19 and delivering vital services. This is a welcome announcement, but it is just the first step in addressing the scale of the challenge. The estimated shortfall for civil society organisations over the next three months is £4billion, and today’s announcement falls far short of that.
Charities, social enterprises and community organisations are a fundamental part of our social fabric, providing vital services for the most vulnerable in good times and in bad. The pressure on Locality’s members has been immense over the last few weeks. These local community organisations have been at the frontline of the response to COVID-19, running foodbanks, setting up schemes for isolated residents, and providing advice on issues like debt and housing. But many have been facing financial ruin as their income has stopped while demand for their services has increased.
We are pleased that the Government has recognised that at this time of national crisis, they must provide funding for those organisations who are supporting our communities through it. It’s vital that this new funding reaches community organisations quickly.
It is currently unclear how the money will be targeted, which organisations and services will be eligible for support, and how quickly the money will get to organisations who are on the brink. We will work with Government to ensure that this funding is spent wisely, but also continue to make the case that additional support is needed. Not least, we need urgent changes to the furloughing scheme to allow more charities to make use of it. Many of these organisations cannot shut up shop and wait for the crisis to be over, like some businesses can, because they are out there every day supporting their communities.
As we move from crisis to recovery, community organisations will be at the very heart of helping our neighbourhoods rebuild from the scars left by this virus. We need to ensure they are in a strong position to do so.
Tony Armstrong, Chief Executive, Locality