More than 100 civil society and business leaders have signed a letter that calls on the Chancellor to urgently review the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
Charity Finance Group (CFG) wrote to Chancellor Rishi Sunak on 5 November asking for a job retention scheme that is fit-for-purpose.
The letter has since gathered well over 100 signatures from both non-profit leaders (representing thousands of charities across the sector) and business leaders too.
“Leaders of both civil society and the private sector recognise that the current scheme is not fit-for-purpose for organisations delivering public benefit. Together, we are urging the government to recognise this too and take urgent action,” explains CFG’s CEO Caron Bradshaw.
Charities, social enterprises and organisations delivering public benefit are now dangerously caught between a rock and hard place. With funds and income dwindling fast due to the pandemic and subsequent restrictions, many have taken advantage of the scheme by furloughing staff. However, this often comes at a price.
Caron continues: “For some activities, furloughing can work, but our social change organisations are being asked to choose between saving themselves and serving beneficiaries. At the same time, we’re seeing demand for their vital services rise fast making that choice even harder. Our citizens desperately need helplines, advice, support and guidance; whether on mental health, unemployment, homelessness or loneliness and isolation. Government must act now to help the sector mobilise, not mothball.”
CFG says the scheme could be made fit-for-purpose and is asking government for a meeting to discuss these solutions. Roberta Fusco, CFG’s Director of Policy, comments:
“CFG has always worked hard to give constructive support to government. During this pandemic we have met on many issues relevant to charity finance. However, we’re concerned at the lack of meaningful support for our sector and worry there is a blind spot on this particular issue which could lead to the collapse of many vital services at a time when they’re never more needed.
“This can only be described as a critical dilemma and so we urgently need government to make the next move and work with us. If society is to come through this pandemic and rebuild quickly, we must see urgent action. Every day counts.”
CFG has launched a campaign - #MobiliseNotMothball - to amplify its message to government. Supporters do not need to be a charity leader. Anyone who works in or with the third sector, or has a charity close to their heart, can get involved. More information about the campaign can be found here.
Statements of support for #MobiliseNotMothball:
Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock CBE, Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust:
'As an independent National Lottery Community Fund endowed Trust, we have conducted a number of reviews into the state of the Armed Forces charities sector. It is clear that this essential piece of the fabric of our nation’s civil society has been placed under enormous pressure by reduced voluntary income and ever-increasing demand for the services individual charities provide. Mobilising rather than furloughing is key to ensuring our most vulnerable, and indeed in many cases our country’s most deserving people, can live their lives in good health, and with dignity and security. We would urge Government to recognise the unique situation currently facing civil society, and make the right policy choices.'
Thalie Martini, Chief Executive Breast Cancer UK
“Breast Cancer UK has experienced a 50% downturn in income. As a result we had no option but to furlough 70% of staff putting our scientific research, awareness and advocacy work on hold. Given Covid-19’s implications for cancer diagnosis and treatment, prevention is now more important than ever. Furloughing staff means that we cannot fulfil our charitable objectives for the public good. It is vital that the Job Retention Scheme provides the flexibility necessary for us to benefit from support, whilst continuing our crucial work to prevent breast cancer.”
Paul Seath, Partner, Bates Wells
'Charities are needed now more than ever, but face a funding crisis. They should not be incentivised to reduce services. They should be incentivised to increase them. The changes called for here will assist with that.'
Peter Holbrook, Chief Executive, Social Enterprise UK
‘The smart economic thing to do is to mobilise our social sector, not mothball it. Our country needs our charities and social enterprises stepping up to the old and new challenges of today, not unnecessarily forced to choose between meeting people’s needs and organisational survival.”
Notes for editors
About Charity Finance Group
Charity Finance Group (CFG) is the charity that inspires a financially confident, dynamic and trustworthy charity sector. We do this by championing best practice, nurturing leadership and influencing policy makers.
About the signatories
The signatories are the chief executive officers and directors of 31 civil society organisations representing thousands of social change organisations of all sizes across the four nations, including disability, homelessness, social exclusion, health, faith, community infrastructure, fundraising and funders.
For further information, please contact:
Emma Abbott, Communications Manager at Charity Finance Group: firstname.lastname@example.org
Roberta Fusco, Director of Policy and Communications at Charity Finance Group: email@example.com
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