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Protecting the social fabric of the UK

08 April 2020

By Tim Le Couilliard, Senior Executive

The Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who was today confirmed as next in line to lead the Government, should Dominic Raab become incapacitated, chaired today’s Downing Street briefing. Flanked at the podium by Stephen Powis, National Medical Director of NHS England and Angela McLean, Deputy Chief Scientific Adviser, Sunak provided the details for the long-anticipated government support for the charity, not-for-profit and third sectors.

Describing the country’s response to the virus as a “collective national effort” that “depends on each other”, Sunak announced plans to protect the “social fabric” of the UK - the charities. Stating that the sector had “not been forgotten”, Sunak outlined the support that the government will provide, on top of that which has been generously pledged by businesses and individuals. He did warn, however, that the government will not be able to match pound-for-pound what charities would usually expect to raise over the next year, but that the government will do all that it can to support the 170,000 charities in the UK.

Sunak reiterated that charities often qualified for the already announced government support mechanisms, such as the job retention and furlough scheme. He noted that while for some charities it might be advisable to “shut up shop” at this time, there are a number who are on the “front line” in combatting the virus. Some, he said, have “never been needed as much as they are now” and closure would be contrary their raison d'être.

Therefore, the government has announced £750m of new funding for the charity sector, £370m of which will be set aside for “small” charities working with local, vulnerable people. Sunak confirmed that £60m of this funding will be put through the Barnett formula to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish charities.

£360m of funding will be provided directly to charities who are providing essential services to the coronavirus effort. Up to £200m of these grants will support hospices with the rest going to organisations such as the St John Ambulance and Citizens Advice.

He also pledged the government’s support to the BBC’s Big Night In (supported by Comic Relief and Children in Need) being held on the 23rd April, for which the government will match pound-for-pound whatever the public donates, starting with at least £20m pledged to the National Emergencies Trust Coronavirus Appeal.

Sunak also took the opportunity to provide an update on the condition of Boris Johnson, stating that whilst he will be remaining in intensive care, his condition is improving and he is now able to sit up and engage with people. The Prime Minister is breathing without a ventilator and is said to be responding well to treatment.

Sunak also updated the UK daily statistics, announcing that the hospital death toll has now reached 7,097, with a record daily increase of 938.  There remains no change to the lockdown measures across the UK.