Government support & guidance
Edition 11 – Wednesday 3 May
Following Friday’s announcements the Financial Times says that “Ministers are preparing to unveil an economic stimulus package in July, in an attempt to mitigate what is expected to be the biggest recession in living memory following the Covid-19 crisis.” Infrastructure organisations are already working on a plan to lobby HM Treasury to see how proposals might affect the voluntary and community sector. We’ll keep you posted.
The Government has recently updated its guidance on what you can and can’t, or should and shouldn’t, do as the lockdown eases.
Some updated links:
- Covid-19 outbreak FAQs: what you can and can’t do – updated 1 Jun 2020
- Guidance on shielding – updated 31 May 2020
- Covid-19 Job Retention Scheme – updated 29 May 2020
- Working safely during Covid-19 – updated 29 May 2020
- Test and trace: workplace guidance – updated 27 May 2020
- Health and social care staff caring for someone without mental capacity – updated 29 May
- Advice for parents and carers of early years children – updated 28 May
Covid-19 Act Report
The first two-monthly report on which powers in the Covid-19 Act 2020 are currently active, as required by the Act, has been published
Edition 10 – Thursday 28 May
Government funding for VCSEs
The Government has created a page which brings together all the different funding pots linked to the £750m, plus other ones. There are no new funding pots that we haven’t previously promoted, (apart from the money for zoos) but it’s a handy page to bookmark so you can see all the different funding programmes and announcements.
Government unlocks £150 million from dormant accounts
On Wednesday last week the Government announced that £150m will be released from dormant bank and building society account funds. Although some is available as grants, the majority will be provided through loans:
- £10m to the Youth Futures Foundation to develop an Emergency Levelling Up Youth Fund – grants
- £45m to be issued by Big Society Capital to help investments and as emergency loans for those with cashflow issues
- £65m to Fair4AllFinance to provide ‘affordable credit’ solutions and as an alternative to high cost loans
- £30m to Access – the Foundation for Social Investment to support social enterprises helping people in vulnerable circumstances. The words ‘social lenders’ and ‘flexible finance’ are used.
Reopening High Streets Safely Fund
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has announced a new £50 million fund for councils to prepare for the safe reopening of high streets and other retail spaces. The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund will support practical measures such as new signage, street marking and barriers.
Hampshire County Council, along with Gosport Borough Council and Portsmouth City Council have agreed a £90,000 package to help keep the Gosport ferry running. Following discussions with Gosport Ferry and the Department for Transport, Gosport, Portsmouth, and Hampshire councils will each give the ferry company £30,000 to ensure it can maintain a service for the next two months.
Providing home care
The Department of Health and Social Care has published information for those providing personal care to people living in their own home.
Covid-19 sick pay scheme
The Treasury has confirmed that the Covid-19 Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, which was announced at the Budget, opened for applications this morning (26 May). The service can be accessed here
Online educational resources
The Department for Education has updated the list of online resources, organised by key stage.
Edition 9 – Wednesday 20 May
Chancellor extends furlough scheme until October
The Chancellor has announced an extension to the current furlough system. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.
The government will explore ways through which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills are supported during this period. Full details of the announcement can be found here
Edition 8 – Wednesday 13 May
Furlough scheme extended to October
Rishi Sunak has announced an extension to the furlough scheme. Yesterday (12th May) he revealed his plans to continue the scheme until the end of October. Until the end of July there will be no change to the current scheme. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff. More detail will emerge by the end of May.
The Government’s Covid-19 recovery strategy
The Government has published the UK’s Covid-19 recovery strategy which sets out the aims, approach, roadmap and supporting programmes.
Edition 7 – Wednesday 6 May
Making the government’s covid-19 support schemes work better for charities
Yesterday (5th May) NCVO published a blog about the Government’s business support schemes. They provide an update on each scheme, including the recommendations that NCVO have put to government officials, and the positive change that government has responded with so far.
I would recommend you read the full article, but in a nutshell…
Coronavirus job retention scheme
Many charities are facing a perverse incentive to furlough staff at a time when supporting the most vulnerable in society is needed more than ever. The scheme is not available for charities receiving public funding that covers staff costs, which can cause significant difficulties for charities whose funding comes from a number of sources, or whose staff are partially funded by public money. NCVO have made a number of requests to government, but these have not so far been met.
Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS)
Since CBILS was launched, sector bodies have been urging the government to remove the eligibility requirement that an organisation generate more than 50% of its turnover from trading, as it would prohibit the majority of charities from applying under the scheme. Last week the government responded by removing the 50% trading requirement, potentially opening the scheme up to thousands more charities. While a welcome development, feedback from charities that have applied to the scheme is that even if they meet all the eligibility criteria, they have still been refused finance from accredited lenders under the scheme.
Small business grant fund
Sector bodies have been urging government to allow charities to apply for a small business grant of up to £10,000. For organisations unable to take advantage of the other schemes on offer, or the government’s £750m support package, accessing this support is particularly important at the moment. Over the weekend the government responded in part by announcing a £617m discretionary fund for small businesses (including charities) that previously fell outside the scope of the small business grant fund. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities, with priority given to businesses in shared spaces, market traders, and small charity properties that would meet the criteria for small business rates relief. It is not yet clear how our local councils will respond.
Retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund (RHLG)
Although the retail, hospitality and leisure grant fund benefits certain types of charities, such as charity shops, art galleries theatres, museums, sports clubs and several others, this is a relatively small part of the overall charity sector. NCVO’s requests to the government have not currently been met.
PAYE and NICs deferral
It is possible for charities to request a deferral of payments of Pay As You Earn (PAYE) and National Insurance contributions (NICs), if they are encountering difficulties in making payments due to covid-19. However, deferred payments incur an interest rate of 2.6% from HMRC. This creates additional financial challenges for organisations already struggling with cashflow. NCVO’s requests to the government have not currently been met.
Self Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS)
From 4 May, HMRC will begin contacting customers who may be eligible for the SEISS. HMRC is also inviting customers to check eligibility for the scheme. The claims service will open on 13 May and payments will be made within 6 working days of making a claim.
Local business grant funds scheme
The Government has confirmed that a discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme. Up to £617 million will be available for small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs.
Zero rate VAT
The Treasury has confirmed that from 1 May, personal protective equipment (PPE) purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against Covid-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period.
Also confirmed were plans to remove VAT on e-books and e-newspapers which have been fast-tracked and have now come into force. This will benefit charities who provide supporters with e-newsletters and other publications as part of a membership subscription.
Bounce Back Loans
Small businesses (including charities) are now able to apply to the Bounce Back Loan scheme for a 100% government backed loan of between £2,000 and £50,000.
Resilience & Recovery Loan Fund
This is now open for applications from charities and social enterprises that have been trading for a minimum of two years and have a turnover of between £400k and £45m. The fund is intended for those organisations who face a problem because expected income and activity has been delayed or disrupted and the loan size will be £100,000 – £500,000. You can read more about it here
The NHS Confederation has launched a new campaign, NHS Reset. The campaign aims to lead the public debate on what the health and care system should look like in the future, both at a national strategic level and by looking at local systems. They are encouraging local partners to join the conversation and share their own learning and experience.
Care Quality Commission (CQC)
The CQC’s chief inspectors have issued a joint statement outlining their approach to regulation during the coronavirus pandemic. They have developed an “Emergency Support Framework” which will be rolled out from 4th May.
Edition 6 – Wednesday 29 April
Government rejects call for more charity coronavirus funding
The government has rejected Labour demands to increase the amount of emergency coronavirus funding for charities. Answering questions from MPs yesterday, Oliver Dowden said that the government will “do everything that we can to support charities”, but refused to commit extra funding to the sector. Dowden was responding to Jo Stevens MP, who said charities “want to hear an explicit commitment from him that further funding will be announced before it is too late and charities go to the wall… Vulnerable people are relying on them for support, and the government must not let them down. Can he guarantee that?” The answer appears to be “no”!
Shadow charities minister starts weekly sector surgery
Rachael Maskell, the recently appointed charities spokesperson for Labour, wants voluntary and community organisations to set out what support they need during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. “I want to create an opportunity for organisations across the sector to talk through the challenges that confront them, how they require support from government and wider society and their long-term aspirations, and champion their work in parliament.” To book an appointment email Rachael Maskell
Advice on looking after animals during lockdown
Government has published advice on what people with animals should do during the lockdown measures. This applies to dogs, cats, horses, livestock and other animals. This includes advice on what to do if you do or do not have symptoms of corona virus, if you are helping other people care for animals whilst they are unable to, or if your pet requires a visit to the vet.
Please be aware – Hampshire constabulary
With more people out walking for exercise there has been an increase of livestock worrying incidents where dogs are off the lead. It is best to keep dogs on a lead around any livestock.
Serious financial challenges
Government have set out some guidance for trustees, who may want some support facing difficult situations or decisions. This webpage focusses on managing financial difficulties in your charity, caused by coronavirus.
Transport links to/from the Isle of Wight
The Department for Transport has confirmed that transport links to the mainland for people living on the Isle of Wight have been safeguarded with an emergency package of up to £10.5 million.
Edition 5 – Wednesday 22 April
Furlough scheme extended
Following on from yesterday’s announcement to keep the social distancing measures in place, Rishi Sunak said the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) would now be open until the end of June.
Portal for reclaiming salaries is now open
You can now claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19). You’ll need the Government Gateway user ID and password you got when you registered for PAYE online. Apparently 67,000 applications were made in the first half hour of the portal opening, so we recommend you keep a glass of wine handy when making your claim.
Guidance for community buildings and similar organisationsThe resplendent Kevin Sawers has written a guidance document to cover two forms of support for small organisations (including charities) that own or lease premises. Read it here
Coronavirus rules relaxed for people with autism and learning disabilities
The government has amended guidance relating to people with learning disabilities or autism leaving the house for exercise, stating they can now do this more than once a day and can travel outside of their local area under current lockdown measures. You can read the updated guidance here
New guidelines for rehoming pets safely have been approved by the Defra. When the government introduced lockdown, animal shelters were closed to the public. The Canine and Feline Sector Group has created these guidelines with address how to rehome animals during the crisis.
Edition 3 – Wednesday 8 April
The Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee has launched a call for evidence on the impact of COVID-19 on the charity sector – the deadline for responses is 16 April 2020. Action Hampshire can co-ordinate responses if that would be helpful. Ring us and rant!
Edition 2 – Wednesday 1 April
Coronavirus job retention scheme
Furloughed staff can volunteer, but not for their own charity
New guidance on the scheme published by HM Revenue & Customs confirms that furloughed employees are able to take part in volunteer work, providing this does not provide services to, or generate revenue for their employers. This means that furloughed staff can do voluntary work, but not for their own charities. For our sector this is both positive and negative: our own staff cannot undertake voluntary work for us, but all the furloughed staff from other organisations potentially gives us a bigger pool of working age volunteers.
Small business grant fund
The government announced that small businesses would be eligible for grant funding of £10,000 to help them with the Covid-19 pandemic, but only those that receive small business rate relief or rural rate relief will be able to apply for the grant. Charities receive the 80 per cent mandatory business rate relief rather than either of the two eligible schemes, so would not be entitled to the £10,000 grant. The Charity Finance Group and the Small Charities Coalition have called on the government to rethink the small business grant fund. More evidence that #EveryDayCounts. See more here
Covid-19 additional funding for Hampshire County Council
The government recently announced £1.6 billion of additional funding for local government to help fund the response to coronavirus. It has been confirmed that Hampshire will receive £29,654,341
Expanded retail discount relief
We have received confirmation that the “Expanded Retail Discount Relief“, or extension of Business Rates relief, applies to charitable halls and Community Amateur Sports Clubs (CASCs), meaning they should receive 100% rate relief this year. The guidance is here. In case of query by local authorities: Clause 7 and 12 (ii) of the Guidance collectively apply, the reference to the Local Govt Act 1988, section 47 is to their powers to grant discretionary relief. The Government will reimburse local authorities for the discretionary relief.
Vulnerable people and the coronavirus bill
The British Institute of Human Rights (BIHR) have published a paper identifying their key concerns with the Coronavirus Bill. VCSEs should be aware of some of the issues that may make vulnerable adults and children even more vulnerable.
- Near wholesale removal of legal duties to assess and provide care and support needs for adults in some of the most vulnerable positions, including disabled and older people and carers (Clause 15 and Schedule 12)
- Suspension of assessments to provide continuing care on hospital discharge (Clause 14)
- Removal of key safeguards to protect people detained in mental health hospital to prevent them from being detained longer than needed or discharged without support (Clause 10 and Schedule 8)
- Downgrading of duties to support children with Special Educational Needs (Schedule 16)
Edition 1 – Thursday 26 March
Government support packages
- Statutory sick pay of up to 14 days for organisations with fewer than 250 employees, including those who self-isolate and people caring for them. Charities that are employers will benefit from this support
- A 100% business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the next 12 months
- Increasing grants to small businesses eligible for small business rate relief from £3,000 to £10,000
- Grants worth £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses operating from smaller premises, with a rateable value over £15,000 and below £51,000
A temporary coronavirus business interruption loan scheme that will guarantee 80% of the value of relevant loans worth up to £5m. This will give lenders further confidence in lending to small and medium-sized enterprises
Guidance from charity commission
How do I get support to pay my charity staff?
The government has announced that organisations, including charities, will get support to help them pay wages. 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 coronavirus outbreak. Any employer in the country- small or large, charitable or non-profit will be eligible for the scheme.
Can I use reserves and restricted funds to help my charity through the crisis?
Can I cancel or postpone my charity’s AGM or other key meetings?
Yes, but record your decision making process. “Wherever possible, we would ask you to try to get your annual reports to us on time. However, where the situation impacts on the completion of annual returns and accounts, charities with an imminent filing date can call us.”
Can I use video, teleconferencing and the internet in place of face-to-face meetings?
Yes. Record your decision where necessary.
What do I need to report to the Charity Commission?
Trustees to use their judgement. Charity Commission will continue to prioritise incidents placing individuals at risk, or those with a significant impact.
Emergency volunteering leave
The bill will introduce ‘emergency volunteering leave’ to make it easier for employees to volunteer in the current crisis. Employees will be able to take blocks of two, three or four weeks of unpaid leave to do this, with the government setting up a compensation fund to cover loss of earnings and expenses at a flat rate (details to emerge).
The bill will also make changes to statutory sick pay (SSP) in line with the announcements in the budget. The government is changing the law to remove the current three-day period in which SSP can’t be claimed, and to allow employers with under 250 employees to claim SSP where absences are linked to coronavirus.
The bill aims to help increase the available health and social care workforce in several ways.
- It will remove barriers to retired NHS staff and social workers returning to work.
- It will also reduce some administrative responsibilities to make it easier for frontline staff to operate in current circumstances.
The bill will change the Care Act 2014 in England, to allow local authorities to prioritise the services so they can make sure that the most urgent and serious care needs are met, even if it means councils not meeting all of someone’s assessed needs or delaying assessments. It does not remove the duty of care they have towards an individual’s risk of serious neglect or harm.