Group representing thousands of charities calls for a sector-specific job retention scheme

A coalition of more than 30 charity leaders has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer calling for a sector-specific job retention scheme.

The letter calls on Rishi Sunak to work closely with civil society to ensure that vital work to serve communities can continue unhindered, and the millions of citizens who depend on the sector are not abandoned during their time of greatest need.

It highlights how the sector faces a “critical dilemma” and argues that access to a tailored job retention programme is crucial to reduce the risk of financial collapse.

Led by the membership body the Charity Finance Group and backed by 31 other organisations, including the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, the charity leaders body Acevo, the Small Charities Coalition and the Association of Charitable Foundations, the coalition represents thousands of charities and social enterprises across the UK.

The group is asking for a time-limited scheme that enables organisations in the sector to furlough staff and allow them to volunteer their time and skills back to their not-for-profit, public benefit employer. 

In May, MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Committee unsuccessfully called on the government to urgently introduce a new Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for charities, which would enable furloughed charity workers to volunteer for their own organisations. 

A recent joint survey by the CFG revealed that one-third of charities had already been forced to make redundancies in service delivery roles.

The letter says: “The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme was an exceptionally generous scheme which was welcomed by the sector and which charities and social enterprises have availed themselves of during its first phase.

“However, as a scheme designed predominantly with private enterprise in mind, it had the perverse effect of incentivising mothballing of provision and not mobilisation.”

The letter concludes: “It is counterproductive to be paying for a charity or social enterprise employee to stop working when our citizens so desperately need helplines, advice, support and guidance; whether on mental health, unemployment, homelessness or loneliness and isolation.”

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