Fears raised over impact of Covid-19 income losses on medical charities

Medical charities are set to invest £4.1bn less in health research and development over the next seven years due to income losses amid the Covid-19 pandemic, a think tank is warning.

The Institute of Public Policy Research has made the prediction in its report Research at Risk, looking at the impact of the health crisis on investment in the sector.

“Medical research charity income has been hit hard by the virus,” states the report.

“Our new modelling predicts that lost charity income could mean, in a worst-case scenario, medical research charities invest £4.1 billion less in health R&D between now and 2027. Our best-case scenario suggests £1.4 billion less investment over the same period.”

Coupled with a drop in private investment due to the pandemic a total of £7.8bn, equivalent to £1 in every £10 worth of funding, is at risk.

“Allowing this to pass would jar, very clearly, with the bold government rhetoric on leading internationally on science and the life sciences,” the report adds.

Financial support

The medical research charity sector needs to be supported by the government financially “with a package lasting the rest of this parliament”.

“This support should come via a new life science charity partnership fund, matched to anticipated decreases in charity sector funding, and tapered over time as the sector recovers.

“This fund should be delivered to charities through a neutral and efficient application process, maintaining the primacy of strategic prioritisation by charities.”

Being proposed is £905m worth of government investment over the next three years to help medical charities, £443m in 2021/22, £300m in 2022/23 and £162m in 2023/24.

“Charities should demonstrate how they are using the fund to support the government in meeting their key societal ambitions, such as addressing health inequalities, supporting research talent and jobs, and levelling-up regional economies,” adds the IPPR.

The IPPR’s report follows concerns raised by large medical charities that the government is not doing enough to protect their finances and investment in research.

Concerns have also been raised that a report into the future of charities presented to government by Conservative MP Danny Kruger also fails to recommend specific support for large medical charities.

At a recent Charity Times Leadership conference, Blood Cancer UK chief executive Gemma Peters challenged Kruger on a lack of detail of how large national charities' needs would be met amid the health crisis.

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