CAF wants third sector clarification from Mandelson 15/01/09

The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) has welcomed Lord Mandelson’s announcement of a series of measures to help businesses through the recession.

However, it is calling for clearer communication from Government to charities after Liam Burns MP responding to a question, in the House of Commons, confirming that these measures would also apply to some Third Sector organisations.

The measures include a £10bn working capital scheme, securing up to £20bn in short-term bank lending to medium sized organisations, an Enterprise Finance Guarantee scheme, securing £1.3bn of additional bank loans to small organisations with a turnover of up to £25m, and a £75m Capital for Enterprise Fund to invest in small enterprises which need equity.

The loans will be underwritten by the government and provided by many of the high street banks.

Under the scheme, organisations running commercial enterprises in the Third Sector and charities who charge for their services will be eligible to apply including, charity shops, or social enterprises such as Jamie Oliver’s “Fifteen Foundation” and the fairtrade “Divine Chocolate Company”.

John Low, chief executive of CAF, said: “Lord Mandelson’s announcement has been well received by the business community and will be welcomed by many third sector organisations. However, at the moment they don’t even know that help may be available to them because Government has been primarily talking about 'business'.

“We would like reassurance that banks participating in these initiatives are aware that the lending criteria extends beyond the private sector and are encouraged to work with viable Third Sector organisations who are providing vital services to those most in need. Lord Mandelson has described “UK companies as the lifeblood of the economy”. I would describe the Third Sector as the ‘lifeblood of society’.

“The government have said they will publish their action plan for the Third Sector in February. I hope that any support offered to the sector is not simply bolted on to measures targeted at business.”

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