How is COVID-19 affecting the charity sector?

Dr Eddy Hogg, an expert in volunteering and charity regulation at Kent's School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, has commented on how charities may be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said:

‘The COVID-19 pandemic places an unprecedented challenge for the charities who work in the very heart of communities across the United Kingdom. They are facing pressures on all fronts. Their beneficiaries need help more than ever, with social distancing and the spread of the virus creating ever greater need. Yet at the same time fundraising has been hit hard by the cancellation of a huge range of events, the mothballing of workplaces and the desertion of high streets. More need and less cash presents charities with a hugely challenging situation, to say the least.

‘Charities will have income in reserves for a rainy day – and this is the rainiest of days – but this is unlikely to be sufficient to safeguard the organisation and its work even in the medium term. They are therefore crying out for additional government support.

‘While Friday’s announcement (19 March 2020) of support for businesses and – explicitly – for charities is welcome, it does little to meet the challenges faced by charities whose services are more in demand than ever.

As the government guidance explains, “Employers will be able to contact HMRC for a grant to cover most of the wages of their workforce who remain on payroll but are temporarily not working during the COVID-19 outbreak. Any employer in the country – small or large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme.” The key phase here is “temporarily not working”. Charities do not need support to pay staff who are not working, they need support to pay staff who are working harder than ever. The government have emphasised that this scheme is flexible – charities need to see this flexibility extend to paying charity staff for the vital work they are doing, not just the work they aren’t doing.’

Dr Eddy Hogg is a Lecturer in Social Policy and Director of Studies for Social Policy and Health and Social Care. His research looks at volunteering, charitable giving and public attitudes to the voluntary sector. His research interests include volunteering across the lifecourse, on volunteering and charitable giving for public services, on youth volunteering, on the value of charity involvement in supporting young people, on attitudes towards charity regulation in England and Wales and, on charity engagement with the Fundraising Regulator. 

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