2020 has been a year like no other in living memory, with the coronavirus pandemic having had an extraordinary impact in the UK and across the world. Just as things seemed to be returning to something resembling normality, a series of local lockdowns, more restrictions on socialising, a call to work from home if you can, reimposed quarantine requirements for those arriving from overseas and strengthened social distancing measures were introduced, bringing uncertainty for the foreseeable future. The pressure on the charity sector to deliver much-needed services has never been greater.
The financial implication of the pandemic on charities is immense. A survey undertaken by the Institute of Fundraising, Charity Finance Group and National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) revealed that charities are expecting the loss of 48% of their voluntary income, and a third of their total income, directly as a result of COVID-19. Over half of charities have had to reduce existing or previous levels of service as a result, and the strain on charities’ reserves is clear for all to see despite the package of financial assistance that has been offered by the government.
Fortunately the government has responded to the continuing crisis by extending some of the temporary measures that were introduced to help businesses in areas such as insolvency law and corporate governance that are also of relevance to the charity sector. The Chancellor has also extended the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and launched the Job Support Scheme which will come into force when the CJRS ends. For more details on the Job Support Scheme, see the government’s factsheet at https://bit.ly/3n5ECsL.
Each of the UK’s Charity Regulators continue to issue guidance for charities on issues raised by COVID-19, and although the volume of new guidance has decreased since the early days of the outbreak, updates are made as the situation evolves. Trustees and charity managers should frequently refer to this guidance to ensure that they are able to effectively manage their charity at this difficult time. This guidance can be found online as follows: