Confusion about EU state aid rules denying charity retailers access to lockdown grants, bodies warn

Two umbrella bodies says the government continues to apply outdated rules from last year

Membership bodies are warning that charity shops are still being denied access to millions of pounds in government lockdown grants because confusion about European Union state aid rules meant they were being wrongly applied.

The Charity Tax Group and the Charity Retail Association said in a statement that the government was continuing to apply rules from last year that the EU had itself amended to be more generous. 

For a medium-sized shop in England, these grants are worth a one-off sum of £6,000, plus £2,000 for every 28 days that it is required to stay closed, the umbrella bodies said. 

In addition, the bodies said that confusion about grant limits and a lack of communication from government and local authorities was adding to the problem, leaving some eligible organisations unable to access the funding.

They are urging the government to use this week’s Budget to ensure that all organisations required to close during the lockdown were provided with access to lockdown grants.

Richard Bray, acting chair of the Charity Tax Group, said: “All high street charity shops are in need of support.  

“Lockdown grants are a perfect opportunity for the Chancellor to recognise this.  

“It would be a tragedy if dithering over EU state aid rules that no longer apply to us should scupper access to what will be a lifeline for many charities.”

Robin Osterley, chief executive of the Charity Retail Association, said up to half of the UK’s charity shops could be affected.

“This is an issue that needs urgent attention if the Chancellor is going to fulfil his commitment to do ‘whatever it takes’ to support the country through this crisis,” said Osterley.

“We are calling on the Chancellor to use the Budget to help support the future of the high street for future generations.”

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