31 March 2020

 

Without aid, charities will not be there when we need them

Government support for charities affected by coronavirus is long overdue.

The recent bailout made logical sense for businesses, allowing employees to stay on the payroll while doing less work than they would under normal circumstances.

However, it is different for many charities – particularly those who are seeing a rising level of demand in the community as people turn to them for support.

Firstly, since so many people are now in very reduced circumstances, they can no longer afford to give money to charities as a regular donation. Secondly, many charities rely on their shops on the high street. Now that the shops have had to close, that resource has disappeared completely.

Finally, charitable trusts normally give enormous sums. This source has collapsed dramatically. I was speaking the other day to a large trust fund which had seen the value of its fund fall by more than £100 million. This means that there is far less for them to give to charities. It has been a triple whammy.

I am a patron of a brilliant children’s hospice that does incredible work supporting children who have life changing and life threatening conditions. They take the pressure off the NHS week in and week out and this is particularly the case in these difficult times.

Even under normal circumstances they have to raise the majority of their funds from donations, with a smaller proportion of the income coming from government than adult hospices receive, but they manage.

However, they are now in danger of being hit very hard. Charities like this and the smaller charities that live an even more hand-to-mouth existence are struggling to get by.

This evening was meant to be the night when the Centre for Social Justice gave awards to small charities to celebrate their work. Sponsored by The Daily Telegraph and other businesses and foundations, we were planning to give £10,000 to each of the charities and publicity for their work. This has had to be put on hold because of the lockdown, illustrating the crisis facing the sector.

I first raised the plight of the sector in the House of Commons three weeks ago, saying that it was going to be urgent that the Government stepped in to help. I urge the Government to do this quickly, or the incredible work done by charities big and small will not be there when we need it most, right now in the middle of this pandemic.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith writes for The Telegraph.