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Donal Watkin - Supporting the sector in challenging times

Our Chief Executive discusses recent campaigns ACO has been supporting to bring a financial package of support to the charity sector in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

As we are all painfully aware, the Covid-19 outbreak continues to have a devastating impact on the charity sector, affecting not only its capacity to deliver vital services, but for many charities their continuing financial viability in the face of dramatic reductions in fundraising and trading income. Initial estimates suggest the sector may miss out on a minimum of £4.3bn of income over the coming 12 weeks.

At the time of writing, we still await an announcement from the Government relating to support measures for the sector – particularly since the current employee furloughing and business interruption loan schemes previously announced by the Treasury will not likely benefit the majority of charities.

In response, ACO has been working in conjunction with other national charity infrastructure bodies – led by NCVO – to actively pressure Government to introduce measures to alleviate some of the financial damage on the sector. This campaign asks the Government to commit to crucial support for the sector including:

  • emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus crisis;
  • a ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them to continue to operate and meet staff salary payments;

The campaign has certainly received strong support since it launched towards the end of last month – particularly amongst MPs – but we must continue to lobby proactively in order to get a tangible response from Government as soon as possible. (The Directory for Social Change have produced a useful template here for charities wishing to write to their MPs in support of the campaign).

We hope that concerted pressure from throughout the sector will lead to some form of imminent announcement from the Treasury and we will continue to keep you updated on all developments.

On a more general note - please don’t hesitate to contact us at any point – whilst the ACO office is not currently manned, like many of us we are striving to continue to provide an ongoing (100%) service through remote working – so all email/tel. lines remain active.

In the meantime, I hope you, your colleagues and families stay healthy and we all look forward to coming out the other side of this crisis!  

Donal Watkin
Chief Executive