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Coronavirus

Since the outbreak began in the UK, ACEVO has been working in partnership with other membership and infrastructure bodies to represent your interests. 

The roll-out of the vaccination against Covid-19 is one of the key elements of tackling the pandemic and getting our lives back to some semblance of normality. We have pulled together information on three elements of the vaccine roll-out – countering anti-vax messaging, civil society’s role in assisting the roll-out, and employment issues, and will update as more information comes available. You can also find more information about the vaccination programme on NCVO’s website.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has produced a Covid-19 Vaccine Comms Pack to support civil society organisations to share and disseminate information. Download it here

You can also read this blog by James Tamm, director of legal services at Ellis Whittam, which contains information about whether charities can require an employee to be vaccinated to protect other colleagues, customers and service users.

Countering anti-vax messaging

Civil society assisting the roll-out

HR issues around vaccine

Quick links:

The central repository for updates on coronavirus and guidance for your organisation is on NCVO’s website

The Charity Commission Covid-19 guidance for the charity sector is frequently updated and contains information about a variety of issues, including: government financial support for charities; meetings including remote meetings, AGMs and postponements/cancellations; insolvency support; mergers and collaboration; finances including using reserves/restricted funds, the SORP, trading subsidiaries and fundraising; and security and safeguarding, including serious incident reporting.

 Some additional resources which may help you include:

ACEVO’s work on coronavirus has centred around the following:

ACEVO has been part of a number of collective campaigns co-ordinated by a group of sector infrastructure bodies. This group of organisations are currently assessing what work they could carry out in the future to continue this collaboration; details of campaigns run to date are provided below.

We know from talking to many of our members that the financial impacts of coronavirus have been significant and will be long-lasting. This has an impact on what we can deliver to those we all serve, and on the employees and volunteers that ACEVO members lead. We have been working with NCVO, the Institute of Fundraising, Charity Finance Group, Small Charities Coalition, NAVCA and many others to represent this concern to government in order to ensure there is financial support to help charities weather this crisis.

The collective Every Day Counts campaign initially asked the government to provide support for the sector at the outset of the pandemic. The campaign asked for emergency funding for frontline charities and volunteers responding to the crisis, a stabilisation fund to help charities stay afloat and confirmation that certain measures that apply to businesses will be eligible for charities. Shortly after the beginning of the first lockdown, on 8 April 2020, the chancellor announced a £750m financial package to support charities during coronavirus. The package was a fraction of the £4bn loss in income forecasted for the first 12 weeks of the pandemic; read more about this funding package in the ‘Financial support’ section of this webpage.

Following Every Day Counts, the Never More Needed campaign asked everyone in the sector to share the stories of the invaluable work charities have been doing during the crisis, and the ongoing difference they make to people’s lives. On Wednesday 17 February 2021 a push for action took place to highlight our sector’s vital role in response to Covid-19, and the need for additional funding #RightNow. Public-facing social media activity was accompanied by an open letter to the prime minister and a letter to the chancellor asking for the creation of an Emergency Support Fund. 

If you have questions about collective campaigns during the pandemic, please contact policy@acevo.org.uk.

To date the only specific financial support for charities was the £750m financial package announced in April 2020. £513 million of this money was distributed by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The remainder of the £750m of government funding to charities was distributed by the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC, £200m for hospices) and to devolved nations (£60m via the Barnett formula).

There have been two key reports into the £513m distributed by DCMS:

Broadly speaking, this funding was not distributed at speed or as transparently as we would have hoped, and has left many charities unsupported despite a huge increase in demand. Others are facing financial instability which may threaten their ability to deliver support when services can resume fully. We will continue to update this page with further developments on this funding package and its distribution.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

On Friday 20 March the Chancellor announced the coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to allow all employers to continue to pay staff that would otherwise have been laid off. We have created a page with all the information you need to know about this

Dormant Accounts

On 20 May 2020 the Secretary of State for DCMS, Oliver Dowden, announced £150m from dormant accounts would be made available for charities and social enterprises. This is split into four pots:

Kickstart Scheme

The Kickstart Scheme was announced by the chancellor in July’s mini-budget. It is a £2billion fund and part of a package of measures announced by government to try to address the impact of Covid-19 on the unemployed. Kickstart is aimed at young people aged 16 – 24 who are on Universal Credit and at risk of long-term unemployment, aiming to give young people the chance to “build their confidence and skills in the workplace, and to gain experience that will improve their chances of going on to find long-term, sustainable work” through 6 month work placements.

What employer costs will the scheme fund?

Organisations, including charities, employing someone on the Kickstart Scheme will be given 100% of the relevant National Minimum Wage for 25 hours per week for six months. The fund will also cover associated employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic pension enrolment contributions. There will also be funding available to cover some overheads (more details to follow soon). The employer may wish to employ the person for more hours, or on a higher wage, but that would be at their own cost.

What kind of roles will the Kickstart Scheme cover?

The government has said that any organisation, including those in the VCSE sector, offering good jobs can access the programme. However, funding is only available for new posts, it cannot be used to cover existing posts. In his announcement the chancellor said ‘funding would be conditional on the firm proving these jobs are additional.’ There will not be a cap on the number of placements an employer can offer.   

What happens after six months?

It does not appear that there will be any obligation on the employer to continue employment after the six-month period. However, we assume that an offer of permanent employment could be made by the employer if appropriate.

The government has said that the Kickstart Scheme will sit alongside other measures offered by the Department for Work and Pensions. It has also announced new funding for a National Careers Service and more funding for traineeships.

How can you apply for the scheme?

Please check this website.

Charity Health Check

Together with the Centre for Mental Health, we have conducted a six-month survey with charities across five key markers of financial health. The results of the survey and more details about it can be found here.

Additional information

Even for those less affected financially, this will be a period of prolonged uncertainty that could negatively impact wellbeing and mental health. In December 2020 we published a report about workforce wellbeing, which you can download here

ACEVO has moved its events online, and we encourage you to still ‘attend’ so that you can check in with your fellow leaders and get peer support. Upcoming webinars are here and digital meetings here

If you are struggling, need advice or a sounding board, or would just like to share what is going on for you, simply visit our ‘talk to us‘ page to find out how to contact our support team. Jenny and Tom – both experienced coaches and previous chief executives – understand the issues and will be in touch to arrange a one to one call. If they can’t support you directly, then they will link you with the information or contacts that can.

Members can also access discounted expert, practical support via ACEVO’s corporate partners, and we are still running a number of training events online. Please click here to read a summary of the services and support offered by our partners.

Hannah Massarella from Bird has written a blog offering three practical steps to fight fear. The Charity Finance Group has collated a list of resources and guidance focused on wellbeing. The Institute of Leadership & Management is hosting webinars on mental health. ACAS has also created a page with several mental health resources during Covid-19. 

Other relevant blogs:

The ACEVO team is working remotely but is fully set up to keep our membership services going. We are asking people to email us rather than phone so we can direct your query to the best member of staff to deal with it. 

If there is something you need which isn’t covered here, or you would like to get in touch for any reason, please email info@acevo.org.uk  

We have been working closely with the Charity Commission to answer questions members have raised about governance and regulatory obligations during the crisis. At the start of the lockdown we produced a briefing for the Charity Commission which can be downloaded here. Issues that have been raised include remote decision making, flexibility in reporting deadlines and altering charitable objects to respond to the current need.

The Commission has produced a Q&A in response here which it is updating on a regular basis. The Commission’s contact desk is also open daily from 9am-5pm on 0300 066 9197and call handlers are prioritising queries related to COVID-19. We have also worked with the Charity Commission on the publication of supplementary guidance on serious incident reporting which can be found here.

The Fundraising Regulator has published guidance to support charitable organisations return to fundraising activities in line with social distancing requirements, as lockdown restrictions are eased across the UK:

If there is any issue not covered here that you would like ACEVO to raise with any of the sector’s regulatory bodies, please get in touch with our head of policy, Kristiana Wrixon. Members can also access bespoke advice through ACEVO’s governance advice line, and advice can also be found on the Small Charities Coalition website.

The outbreak of COVID-19 has changed many charities plans and immediate priorities. Every charity wants to ensure that it is doing all it can over the coming months to provide support and services to the people it works with. In order to serve all people and all communities we need to be sure that the programmes and processes we create over the coming months are equitable and inclusive. The need to move with speed does not negate the need to be inclusive, and the fact that we will all be impacted by COVID-19 doesn’t mean we will all be impacted equally. On Monday 23 March we hosted an online event to discuss what charities can do to ensure they have equity at the centre of their decision making and designing when responding to COVID-19. Watch the recording below or read the summary here.

  More insightful content:
  • #CharitySoWhite has published a paper that provides an overview of the risks and impact of COVID-19 on racial inequalities within the UK.
  • Ubele has a dedicated page collating the work it has been doing in response to Covid-19 and how it affects BAME communities, including research and case studies.
  • Leeds Migration Partnership has published a really interesting blog about video calling and the potential costs to marginalised communities. The blog also offers advice for addressing these inequalities.
  • Inclusion London is hosting a webinar about the impact of Covid-19 on Disabled people: Abandoned, forgotten and ignored.
ACEVO has also started to think about to rebuild a fairer, more equitable society. Please read this blog by ACEVO CEO Vicky Browning and read the #BuildBackBetter statement here.

#LifeBeyondCovid: House of Lords COVID-19 Committe inquiry

In August 2020, ACEVO submitted a video featuring 10 members to the House of Lords COVID-19 Committee. They talk about the impact of the pandemic on the people they work with and their work as a charity. 

Not an ACEVO member?

If you have any queries please email info@acevo.org.uk
or call 020 7014 4600.