The #NeverMoreNeeded campaign to save charity services scored a major victory today, as the cross-party Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in Parliament said that current government support for the sector during the pandemic was ‘not enough’, and called on the Government to:
‘increase the support available to charities through a comprehensive stabilisation fund, and to ensure that support is made available to charities that are not directly working on tackling Covid-19 but facing financial hardship.’
The Committee took on board a huge amount of evidence in a very short time, under challenging circumstances in the weeks after social lockdown. We and our campaign partners owe a big thank you to all the Committee members and clerks who worked on the report, but also the 71 charities that submitted evidence.
Our own submission was referenced several times by the Committee, and was based on evidence that YOU supplied, dear reader! Your efforts are making a difference! Small actions add up – so please do keep sending us your evidence and telling us your stories!
We were thrilled to see the unequivocal statements from the Committee on the importance of saving vital charity services, not just in responding to COVID19 but more widely, as well as some specific recommendations that DCMS, Treasury and the rest of the government need to consider urgently.
For example, commenting on the insufficiency of the Government’s £750 million of emergency support for charities announced nearly a month ago, the Committee said:
- ‘We back the charity sector’s calls for a stabilisation fund to secure the long-term financial health and organisational diversity of the sector.’
- ‘In addition to the support that has already been announced, the Government should establish further funding to assist charities and voluntary organisations to stay afloat throughout the Covid-19 crisis. This should be available to organisations facing financial pressures, even if they are not involved in the frontline response to Covid-19.’
- ‘We are concerned that the support announced to date is not enough, and that a lack of transparency in how these funds are being allocated means deserving charities will lose out.’
The Committee also demanded that the Government urgently rethink the suitability for charities of current COVID19 support schemes that are available to business:
- ‘The Government must also adapt existing support schemes for businesses to ensure they provide appropriate support for the charity sector. It must take these steps urgently, within a month, to prevent charities from folding.’
- ‘The Government should introduce a separate Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for charities within four weeks. The scheme should enable furloughed employees of charities to volunteer for their organisations providing appropriate safeguards are met.’
- ‘We also ask the Government to guarantee that six weeks’ notice will be given of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ending so that charities can plan accordingly, and to phase the ending of the scheme to support any charities that are unable to return immediately to full capacity.’
Further, it’s clear the Committee isn’t letting this go – they want the Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden MP to update them on progress by Friday 5 June. If he’s smart he will do so sooner than that – how many more charity services will disappear with another month of inaction?
The ball is now in Oliver Dowden’s and Rishi Sunak’s court. The Prime Minister should take note, too. They must listen and act – and fast – to save vital services that are #NeverMoreNeeded.