Voluntary sector leaders call for charity specific furlough scheme

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak is being urged by voluntary sector leaders to develop a charity sector specific Covid-19 job retention scheme.

More than 30 charity sector organisations and leaders say the current scheme, which has been extended until March 2021, is too focused on the private sector and does not take civil society employers into account.

They want charity workers that are furloughed to be allowed to undertake voluntary work for their employers.

The current system has “the perverse effect of incentivising mothballing of provision and not mobilisation”, according to a letter from the group to Sunak.

The campaign for a charity sector specific furlough scheme is being led by the Charity Finance Group (CFG) and backed by the Association of Charitable Foundations. ACEVP, Charities Aid Foundation and the Charity Retail Association, among others.

Their letter states that charities “who are facing financial distress” should be able to “furlough staff and enable volunteering back to the cause to ensure maximum public benefit delivery can continue”.

It adds: “We know from recent surveys that a third of charities have already announced redundancies in service delivery roles, at a time when supporting people on the front line is never more needed.

“It is counterproductive to be paying for a charity or social enterprise employee to stop working when our citizens so desperately need helplines, advice, support and guidance; whether on mental health, unemployment, homelessness or loneliness and isolation.”

“It is essential that action is taken rapidly in this respect before organisations take decisions which could see those in most need left unsupported and inequity exacerbated.”

Also signing the letter to Sunak are a number of charity chief executives, including Children England CEO Kathy Evans, Homeless Link CEO Rick Henderson and Clinks CEO Anne Fox.

The Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s director of engagement Ceri Edwards has also signed the letter.

The letter and full list of signatories can be found here.

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