Sue Ryder is facing the closure of its hospices and care provision because the Covid-19 pandemic has cost the charity an estimated £12m in fundraised income.
The charity has also added its name to calls from across the sector for an emergency funding package to help charities survive the pandemic, which has severely hit fundraising and trading income across civil society.
The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has estimated that the cost to charities from Covid-19 is likely to exceed £4.3bn, and an #EveryDayMatters campaign has been launched to secure an emergency funding package to help prevent charities from collapsing.
Sue Ryder said in a statement that a third of its income was statutory funding, with the rest made up of income from the charity’s 450 shops, which were closed last month because of government guidance, and its fundraising.
The loss of this income meant that the charity had only a “matter of months” before hospices and its hospice at home services would need to close, it said.
The charity said it was being relied upon by the NHS during the pandemic, but the lack of emergency funding from the government meant the charity was launching a public appeal for donations.
Heidi Travis, chief executive of Sue Ryder, said: “We have been calling on the government to support us, but no funding has materialised.
“The country will lose its hospices at a time when they are needed most. This is a plea and no less. We cannot wait any longer.
“We are a critical front-line support service in the fight against coronavirus, yet we are on the brink of closure.”
The trade union Unite has echoed Sue Ryder’s calls for urgent funding for the charity sector. Siobhan Endean, national officer for the community, youth and not-for-profit sector at Unite, said: “The closure of the Sue Ryder hospices would be a national tragedy, but sadly this is just the tip of the iceberg, because charities face an unprecedented funding threat that could see the demise of many more.
“We called for a comprehensive financial package last week and now it is time for ministers to hit the accelerator before the UK’s charities face the biggest-ever threat to their future.”
The union said that Sue Ryder needed to access the government’s job-retention scheme to save jobs and keep hospices going, and a “whole host” of other organisations were in the same situation as the charity.
Cancer Research UK
It was also announced today that Cancer Research UK will cut its spending on research by £44m as part of the charity’s attempt to make savings because of the impact of coronavirus on its fundraising.
The charity said it had cut its funding for existing grants and institutes by up to 10 per cent and its national network of centres by about 20 per cent.
An estimated 50 per cent of cancer research in the UK is funded by the charity, but it is facing a fall in fundraised income of between 20 and 25 per cent because of the pandemic.
The charity has already put 40 per cent of its staff on furlough, whereby the government will pay 80 per cent of staff wages to a maximum of £2,500 a month.
Iain Foulkes, executive director of research and innovation at Cancer Research UK, said: “Covid-19 has left the whole world in uncharted waters. The unprecedented measures to control the global Covid-19 pandemic have had a huge impact on both our researchers’ ability to carry on in the lab and on our ability to fundraise.
“We have worked hard to ensure the cuts are limited and give our researchers flexibility in how to make them. Ultimately, it is our research that delivers benefit to people affected by cancer, and this remains our first priority. We are hopeful that limiting our spending now will enable us to continue funding life-saving research in the long run.”