Rishi Sunak’s first Budget comes at an exceptional time for the country, with the implications of the growing coronavirus threat largely unknown. It was therefore no surprise, and clearly very welcome, that the Budget included measures to support the economy in these uncertain times.
From a not-for-profit perspective, though, it was noticeable that charities did not get much in the way of specific mention, so it is hoped that they will be eligible to apply to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme, in addition to taking advantage of the extension to statutory sick pay.
For many years now, the charity sector has seen increased demand for the vital services and support that the sector provides without any increased funding, in fact the reverse. And whilst the impact of Brexit has been creating uncertainty for some time, we now have the added threat from coronavirus. Many charities rely on fundraising activities to help finance their operations, and with the potential for cancellation of fundraising events, much of that vital income could simply disappear. Many also rely on a large contingent of staff and volunteers to deliver their frontline services. So the threat is as great for charities as it is for business.
Looking at other measures announced, the removal of VAT from digital publications, the pledge of £650m to support rough sleepers and increased support for veterans with mental health needs, will benefit some within the sector, although clearly not all, whilst those women’s charities that have previously benefitted from the Tampon Tax Fund will be wondering how to replace that income.
It is disappointing that the Chancellor did not give the not-for-profit sector equal recognition with business in his Budget, and seek to address the inherent funding uncertainties that many face with a backdrop of increased demand for vital services.