Escalating demand for support 'going unmet' as a third of charities continue to furlough staff

Around a third of charities still have staff on furlough and intend to continue to use the Covid-19 job retention scheme this year.

But the lack of staff amid the pandemic is causing a backlog of unmet demand for support, a survey has found.

The findings have emerged from the latest figures compiled through the Pro Bono Economics Covid Charity Tracker, which is published in partnership with the Institute of Fundraising and the Charity Finance Group.

This surveyed charities last November and found that 29% of charities were using the Coronavirus job retention scheme and also intend to use it into 2021.

Among other charities,10% were furloughing staff at the end of 2020 but intended to bring them back ahead of this month, meanwhile 5% are not using the retention scheme but intend to start using it. The rest said they are not and do not intend using the scheme.

However, the figures could be higher this month as the survey was carried out ahead of this week’s announcement of Boris Johnson of a new national lockdown.

Overall in 2020, 39% of charities had furloughed staff, which is a higher proportion than for employers across all sectors (33%).

The reduction of charity staffing due to the Covid-19 pandemic means that demand for services among beneficiaries is going unmet, warns Pro Bono Economics.

“Of the 39% of charities that are making use of the furlough scheme, 63% say that they were able to meet demand, despite lower staff numbers,” the think tank said.

“Nonetheless, almost four in 10 say that demand for their services is going unmet because they had to put staff on furlough.”

Our Covid Charity Tracker in September found that charities were putting employees from a range of role types on furlough. Many of these were service delivery staff, but a proportion were also from fundraising, finance, HR, charity retail, or other roles.”

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