Autumn Budget 2021: The main points for the voluntary sector

Allocations for the first round of the Levelling Up Fund and details of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund were among the announcements included in today’s Budget statement

Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, unveiled his Autumn Budget in the House of Commons today.

Sunak has been under pressure to help people with the cost of living as he announced plans that he hopes will transition the economy beyond the pandemic. 

Here are some of the main points of his statement that affect charities:

  • Under the umbrella of levelling up, the chancellor announced more than £2.6bn for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund over the Spending Review period, which he said would focus on helping people into jobs and “getting on in life” across the UK. 

  • £560m will be given in funding for youth services in England over the next three years, enough to fund 300 youth clubs.

  • The first round of the UK-wide Levelling Up Fund has been allocated with £1.7bn of local investment in local areas, which include the redevelopment of Inverness Castle in Scotland.

  • 21 projects will benefit from the £150m Community Ownership Fund, which will help communities around the UK to protect and manage their assets, such as pubs or Post Offices.

  • £850m will be given to protect museums, galleries, libraries and local culture in England.

The Chancellor confirmed that the UK Shared Prosperity Fund will at a minimum match the size of EU funds in all nations each year. He also announced £11bn in Overseas Development Assistance, and an additional £458m for asylum and refugee support that would be delivered by 2024-25.

The Recovery Loan Scheme was extended until the end of June next year, although there was no mention of the Community Renewal Fund.

Business rates will be reduced by 50 per cent, said Sunak, alongside further tax reliefs for cultural venues, museums and galleries.

Other announcements likely to have an impact on charities and their service users include billions in spending on health and social care, cutting the Universal Credit taper rate by eight per cent and an increase in the National Living Wage to £9.50 an hour from the start of April next year.

Samantha Mercadante, policy manager at the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said on Twitter that the organisation welcomed the commitments made in the budget. 

"NCVO welcomes new spending commitments on sport, culture, and public services and we are pleased to see that the Chancellor has listened to charities by acknowledging the need to bolster local government funding and make changes to Universal Credit," Mercadante said. 

"However, today’s announcements will not be enough to support charities and communities to recover from the pandemic and build a stronger society. 

"In the forthcoming levelling up white paper, we want to see investment in social infrastructure, the creation of a Community Wealth Fund, and reform of the existing funds designed to support communities to level up." 

Full coverage of the sector's reaction to the Autumn Budget to follow. 

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