UK Charities risk grinding to a halt just as they are needed most. COVID-19 is affecting all aspects of our lives and society in ways we are only just beginning to contemplate. Measures intended to alleviate financial stress threaten to deplete charitable provision by precluding charity workers placed on ‘furlough’ from undertaking critical work on a voluntary basis for their organisation.
In an open letter to the Chancellor of the Exchequer we seek a relaxation of restrictions for furloughed charity workers so they may choose to volunteer for their charity and continue providing access to vital services where it is safe to do so.
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To the Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP,
Let charities support the nation – allow furloughed charity employees to volunteer for their organisation
Thank you for your leadership and the support promised to UK industry, business, the self-employed and charities in a time of such unprecedented need.
The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) brings welcome relief for employers but is not fully geared for the Third Sector.
Whilst it is important to minimise potential abuse of the CJRS and profit generation subsidised by taxpayers, well-meaning conditions preventing furloughed employees from undertaking work for their employer are not in the best interest of charities. Charities cannot and must not pause work at a time of national crisis where their services are needed more than ever.
Charities are non-profit making, mission-focused organisations serving beneficiaries, not shareholders. Recognising a requirement to provide immediate financial relief to charities ensuring their very survival, whilst precluding the use of furloughed resources to advance charitable objectives is contradictory.
Furloughing may protect businesses and our wider economy, but for UK charities who spend £42bn annually providing vital services to those in need – it risks bringing the critical work of 827,000 employees (2.7% of the UK workforce) to an abrupt halt. Plunging the sector into disrepair and creating a void in society.
Charities directly or tangentially linked to the Covid-19 response across all aspects of society (health, education, housing, social care, well-being and others) now face an impossible choice; use financial relief at the expense of reducing charitable operations or; to ‘advance public benefit’ without financial support and risk not surviving.
This sector-wide dilemma might be likened to funding more nurses and doctors while restricting them from entering hospitals.
We are asking the UK Government to make an important clarification to the CJRS in respect of its guidance to charities to:
‘Allow furloughed employees of registered charities to undertake work for their charity in a voluntary capacity providing that work continues to advance the public benefit, the employee continues to receive their salary at the same level pre-furlough (i.e topped up to 100% by the charity), and the charity can reasonably demonstrate furlough is required due to financial distress.’
Third Sector employees would then have the choice to volunteer their time back to the charity they were working for. Currently, any furloughed employee can volunteer their time but not to their employer.
There is much work to do. Many people across the UK rely on the talented and dedicated Third Sector workforce to provide support. We must continue and not diminish the invaluable impact of charities in our local communities whilst abiding by official guidance to stay at home and save lives.
Charities can support the nation, whilst Government, NHS, emergency services and key workers tackle the virus. Empower us by giving charity employees the choice to continue their work for good.
For and on behalf of the UK Third Sector,
CEO, FIRST UK
Chair of Trustees, FIRST UK
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Together, we can continue to help those who need it most.
. . .
Donna Speed, CEO, We the Curious
Anne Sheldon, CEO, The London Preschool
Anthony Harmer, Chief Executive, ELATT
Julie Feest, Chief Executive Officer, EDT
David Blake, Chairman, The London Preschool
Amy Shepherd, Amy Shepherd Consulting
Ross Blackadder, Chief Executive Officer, Transition Extreme
Sandy Potter, Avron
Claire Carpenter, Founder and Chief Executive, Lawrence Morison, Board Trustee, Jennifer Richmond, Finance & Operations Manager, Anna Ciborowska, James Gray, Phillip Reid, The Melting Pot
Mark Majewsky Anderson , Research and Innovation Director, Glasgow Caledonian University
Joe Trodden, CEO, Mindset Experts
Justine Daniels, CEO, Read for Good
Emily Beardsmore, CEO, Light Up Learning
Lesley Powell-Cullingfor, You Raise Me Up
Peter Wright, Founder and Vice Chairman, Friends of the Award
Laura Cecil, Trusts Fundraiser, The Sussex Association for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (SASBAH)
Gregory Kinsman-Chauvet, Cycling Enthusiast Officer (CEO) and Founder, Bike For Good
Robert Davies, The Bridgend Centre, Bollington
Kerensa Wilton, Avron
Julie Hogg-Weld, CEO, Bright Light Relationship Counselling charity
Rosie Hall, Office Manager, SELFA
Osbert Lancaster, Sustaining Dunbar
Sue Riddlestone OBE, CEO & co-founder, Bioregional
Alex Robinson, Director, Hubbub UK
Geraldine Des Moulins, Chief Officer, Possability People
Ann Hickey, Chief Executive, East Sussex Credit Union
Sam Bailey, Transition Town Worthing CIC
Sue Sayers, Project Manager, Trust for Developing Communities
Keith Hollis, Chair, Sussex Community Foundation
Jon Bebb, Turning the Tide
Katie Vincent, CEO, Allsorts Youth Project
Emily-Jane Stuttard, Sussex MS Centre
Victoria Gibbons, DD8 Music
Graham Galloway, Chief Executive, Kirrie Connections
Peter Blackwell, Chief Executive, Beatriz Marques, ReachOut
Anne Stafford, Safety Net
Ben Williams, Projects Co-ordinator, Sussex Interpreting Services
Mireille Shimoda, Dani Ahrens, Kate Page, Resource Centre, Brighton
Fran Ellis, CEO, Rising Sun Domestic Violence and Abuse Service
David Weston FCCT, Chief Executive, Teacher Development Trust
Amie Rai, ONCA
Midge Blake, Fundraising Coordinator, Lindengate
Georgina Collins, Independent Visitor Coordinator, Brighton & Hove Youth Participation Team
Jess Bayley, Centre for Ecotherapy
The ME Association
Ben Vulliamy, Chief Executive, University of York Students’ Union
Nik Kafka, CEO & Founder, Teach A Man To Fish
Adele Garside, Volunteer Co-Ordinator, Gig Buddies
Joel Voysey, the Children’s Charity
Leona McDermid, Chief Executive, Aberdeen Foyer
Emma Mochan, Vision Foundation
Helen Mackenzie, Purity Fundraising
Peter Cashman, Christian Aid Trust
Marie Harvey-Wells, Futurepace International Ltd
Nils Wieboldt, Director of Finance, Blood Cancer UK
Stuart Chell, Managing Director, Chell Perkins Ltd
Martin B Pearson, Chief Executive Officer, Catalyst Science Discovery Centre and Museum
Neil Johnston, CEO, Paddington Development Trust
Julia South, Malcolm Eyre, Francoise Grimshaw, Dorothy Sheridan, Jill Davies (independents)