Former party leaders and charity ministers urge government to help the sector

Two former party leaders and another two former charity ministers have written an open letter calling for emergency funding to help the charity sector survive the coronavirus crisis.

In a letter published in The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Ed Miliband, a former leader of the Labour Party who was also Minister for the Third Sector between 2006 and 2007, and Sir Iain Duncan Smith, former leader of the Conservative Party, said some charities were closing and thousands more were “teetering on the brink”.

The letter is also signed by two former ministers for civil society, Nick Hurd and Rob Wilson, who between them were in the post for seven years, plus the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell, the Bishop of Chelmsford and General Lord Dannatt, chair of the National Emergencies Trust

The letter highlights the work charities are doing to coordinate the response to Covid-19 and help vulnerable people and the NHS during the pandemic, but says income has collapsed.

The comments come after the launch of the #EveryDayCounts campaign by sector umbrella bodies to pressure the government into releasing funding to support charities during the pandemic amid concerns about lost fundraising income.

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has estimated that at least £4.3bn could be lost in income to the charity sector if action is not taken to support charities during the pandemic.

The government has indicated it is working on a rescue package for the charity sector.  

“Much of the crisis support does not help charities,” the letter says. “Many can’t access business interruption loans or the new business rate relief. 

“Supporting wages for workers who can’t work won’t help charity trustees having to run big deficits to keep going. Many are already having to take decisions about redundancies and closures as the situation is financially so grave. 

“The Chancellor has said the government is working on support for charities and, of course, it needs to be set up in the right way. It can’t come soon enough.

“Charities can’t help tackle coronavirus, or help us rebuild, if they no longer exist.”

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