DSC raises concerns over transparency and delays in handing out Covid-19 funding

Concerns have been raised over a lack of transparency and delays in handing out funding for small charities to cope with the impact of Covid-19.

In April Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a £750m support package for the voluntary sector amid the pandemic. This includes £370m for small charities.

The National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF) has been tasked with delivering much of the money for small charities. In May, applications opened for £200m of this Coronavirus Community Support Fund money to be distributed in the first round of funding.

But the Directory of Social Change (DSC) has raised concerns about a lack of transparency about this initial burst of funding.

It is also concerned that there has been no update on when the remaining funds will be released.

In a blog post, DSC director of policy and research Jay Kennedy said: “Even though this is supposed to be emergency funding to mitigate the impact of Covid-19, we still have no idea when or how the remaining funds will be released, despite the NLCF reporting record numbers of applications for the first tranche. Why?

“To our knowledge no data has been released about how many applications have been received, how many have been successful, whether the initial £200m has already run out, or whether any funding has been awarded at all. This needs to be in the public domain – it isn’t fair to current or prospective applicants not to provide it as soon as possible.”

He is concerned that the government has “hamstrung the NLCF’s expertise and process with red tape and ministerial diktats”.

He added: “Small charities – and most importantly the people who depend on them – need transparency and action, not more dithering and delay.”

To clarify the funding situation the DSC has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the NLCF.

This calls for the release of information about the contracts to deliver funding, including letters and emails between ministers, the NLCF and government officials.

This also requests information on how many applications have been received, progressed and successful.

A NLCF spokesperson said: “We can confirm we have received a Freedom of Information request from DSC and will of course endeavour to respond within twenty working days.”

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