We have heard a lot from the government regarding their offers of support to the voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) sector. Some of the rhetoric has promised much but delivered little that is tangible so far – the much trumpeted £750m package being a case in point. Where relief is available, rules can change and it can be difficult for VCSE organisations to determine whether or not they are eligible.
I’d like to draw people’s attention to an excellent bulletin from Locality, which attempts to summarise some of the government assistance that the sector may be eligible for. I urge every CEO, Finance Manager, Funding Officer, Business Development Manager etc. to look through it to ensure your organisation is aware of the support that is available so you can make an informed decision about whether or not to apply. If, having read the guidelines, you’re still not sure, do get in touch with your local authority. To misquote another major funder of the sector – you’ve got to be in it to win it!
The government have recently produced more detailed guidance for the discretionary small business support fund (13 May 20). The funds will be administered by local authorities who will have some leeway in deciding how it is spent. Authorities have already allocated some of their funding for this, but there’s still time to ensure your organisation is considered for this discretionary funding. If you have fewer than 50 employees and have some property related costs but were ineligible for the rates based grants this could be an opportunity for you to obtain some additional, much needed funding from the government.
Many other organisations have produced comprehensive guides to the support available (which is one reason why I’m not going to attempt to create another one – others are better placed and better informed than I am). Charity Tax Group are one such organisation. Manchester City Council also have pages dedicated to the support on offer for businesses and employers – a must see site for organisations based in Manchester.
Whilst talking about government support, we must also mention the furlough scheme, or the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, as it is known formally. This has been extended recently to October 2020, with some modifications which will start in August. Much has already been written about this scheme, including by Macc, which you can find on our Coronavirus microsite
The Chancellor announced on 8th April a support package worth £750 million for the sector. This sounds like a lot of money, but it’s nowhere near the estimated £4 billion cost to the sector in lost revenue. Half of this sum is earmarked for larger charities already, and a large proportion of the rest will be distributed via the National Lottery, so don’t expect to see a new grants pot which charities or social enterprises can apply to. Do watch for changes to Lottery schemes though and for schemes aimed at particular sectors – DCMS for example have launched a loneliness fund; MHCLG have launched a homelessness fund, so there is some targeted funding being made available. Details of these and other funding available can be found in Macc’s Funding Update
The government have made some funding available to support organisations through the Covid-19 crisis. It certainly isn’t sufficient to replace all the funding lost to the sector, nor will it adequately cover the additional costs of responding to the crisis – but it’s something. Make sure you know what you are entitled to and make use of the schemes available. The apparently hasty and ad hoc way in which these schemes spring up mean it’s not always clear what is available, when or for whom, but be alert (pun intended) for opportunities for government support – they could provide an invaluable lifeline for your organisation.