Exclusive: Dozens of small UK-based aid charities set to close within 12 months, survey warns

Just 4 per cent of small international development charities have been eligible for government support, network says

Dozens of UK charities working in international development are expected to close over the next 12 months as a result of the Government’s £2.9 billion global development budget cut, an aid network has warned.

A survey of 53 small international development charities with annual incomes of between £5,000 and £1m, carried out by the Small International Development Charities Network (SIDCN) in June this year, found that despite nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of respondents seeing demand for their services increase, funding opportunities were rapidly disappearing.

The findings of the survey, How is COVID-19 affecting small UK charities working in international development?, warned that without additional funding, 45 per cent were forecast to close within the next year, and 15 per cent would fold within six months.

The network also described the recently-announced merger between the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and the Department for International Development as “a blow to these important charities, and the hundreds of thousands they serve.”

SIDCN explained that the vast majority of UK charities working overseas were not eligible to apply for the government’s Coronavirus Community Support Fund, with just 4 per cent of the surveyed charities reporting they were in a position to access government support.

The report also warns that many UK funders have amended their giving criteria to only support UK-based projects, and the decision of DfID to ‘pause’ grants has left many charities and projects in limbo.

Charities like the UK-registered East African Playgrounds have seen “95% of [its] funding disappear overnight”, according to chief executive Murielle Maupoint.

Last week, the international development charity African Initiatives was one of the first aid organisations to announce plans to close in April 2021, after a combination of changes to the funding environment and the dramatic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its income.

“Small UK charities working overseas are a forgotten group,” A SIDCN spokesperson told Third Sector.

“They are supporting some of the world’s poorest communities during this crisis, and will be needed well beyond to aid recovery, rehabilitation, and reconstruction. These charities need funding as a matter of urgency – so that vulnerable communities are not left behind.”

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