Charities propose sector job-retention scheme and 50% Gift Aid

An open letter to the City AM newspaper and signed by leaders of 28 organisations warns that the government's £750m package for the sector is not enough

A group of enterprise and youth-focused charities has called on the government to provide a charity-specific job-retention scheme and to increase Gift Aid to 50 per cent.

The call was made in an open letter published in the business newspaper City AM yesterday and signed by the leaders of 28 organisations including the Centre for Entrepreneurs, City Year UK, Young Enterprise and the Small Charities Coalition.

The letter warns that the £750m package to support charities affected by the coronavirus pandemic, announced by the Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week, was not enough and urges the government to offer more tailored support.

“Without intervention, thousands of charities will buckle at the exact time they are needed most,” the letter says.

It says two simple policies would benefit the widest number of charities. First would be the introduction of a Charitable Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, which would allow charities to claim 80 per cent of staff wages from the government, as they can under the existing scheme, but would not require those staff members to be furloughed.

This would mean charities could “retain staff and allow them to continue delivering vital charitable work”, the letter says.

The second policy the letter calls is an increase in the rate of Gift Aid charities can claim on donations from taxpayers from 25 per cent to 50 per cent until the end of August, which the letter hopes will “amplify public generosity by unleashing a ‘summer of giving’” and empower “all charities to rebuild their finances through a season of fundraising activities that will capture the public’s imagination”.

The letter says: “The government must act now. Without the critical support that charities provide, this crisis will cast an even longer shadow on people’s lives.”

The signatories are led by Oliver Pawle, chair of the Centre for Entrepreneurs, and include Rita Chadha, chief executive of the SCC, Helen Marshall, chief executive of Brook, Kevin Munday, chief executive of City Year UK, Sharon Davies, chief executive of Young Enterprise, Vidhya Alakeson, chief executive of Power to Change, and the Labour MP Rosie Cooper.

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