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Coronavirus and your charity

What can you do to mitigate the impact of Coronavirus? A practical guide for charity finance professionals, which will be updated with new information and advice as the crisis unfolds.

Contact us at policy@cfg.org.uk if you have any information you'd like us to share, experience you'd like to share, or questions you'd like us to answer.

 

UPDATE 31 March 2020

  • The DCMS Select Committee Inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on the charity sector hearing will be live from 2.15pm today, watch it here. See the twitter commentary from our Policy Director, Roberta Fusco here.

UPDATE 30 March 2020

  • A story on these survey results and the impact on the sector was featured on BBC radio 4 news at 6pm, listen here (25m in)
  • Our webinar Coronavirus and Your Charity's Finances' was live at 1pm, with a Q&A to our expert panel. Listen to the recording here and view the roundup from Sayer Vincent here. A round up of all the questions and answers will be published on our site shortly, and a link to the webinar made available.
  • The Charities Aid Foundation has established an emergency fund for small charities and organisations hit hardest by coronavirus. Find out if you qualify here.
  • HMRC are providing an extension to making tax digital, with more time for businesses to put in place digital links between all parts of their functional compatible software. This means businesses now have until their first VAT return period starting on/after 1 April 2021 to put digital links in place. This is welcome news!

A few updates for you from over the weekend:

  • The Today Programme on Radio 4 this morning had a section interviewing Javed Khan CEO of Barnados and Kate Collins CEO of Teenage Cancer Trust echoing our asks. Listen here (1h 33m in). Gemma Peters, CEO of Bloodwise, also appeared on Sky News this morning.
  • The Welsh Government announced an initial fund of £24 million to support Wales’ voluntary sector in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The funding will provide immediate support for Wales’ most vulnerable and help coordinate the thousands of willing volunteers wanting to help others during the current crisis. A further £15 million will ensure people in Wales who not able to leave their home are able to get direct deliveries of food and other essential items to their door.
  • NPC has written a joint letter to Philanthropists published in the Financial Times, calling for funders and philanthropists to support charities at this time.

UPDATE 27 March 2020

  • A letter was published in the Telegraph today, signed by former Charities Ministers Nick Hurd, Rob Wilson, Ed Miliband, Ian Duncan Smith, General Lord Dannat and the Rt Rev Stephen Cottrell in support of our asks for a package of measures to support charities.
  • Government today published updated guidance on how to claim for wage costs through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. There are a number of relevant clarifications:
    • On frontline services: Where employers receive public funding for staff costs & that funding is continuing we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion & correspondingly not furlough them.
    • On NLM/NMW : Furloughed workers, who are not working, must be paid the lower of 80% of their salary, or £2,500 even if, based on their usual working hours, this would be below NLW/NMW.
    • Employers will receive a grant from HMRC to cover the lower of 80% of an employee’s regular wage or £2,500 per month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contributions and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contributions on that subsidised wage.
    • On volunteering; to be eligible for the subsidy when on furlough an employee can not undertake work for or on behalf of the organisation. This includes providing services or generating revenue.
    • We are analysing what this all means for charities and voluntary organisations with our infrastructure colleagues and will update this page as soon as we know more.
  • Big Society Capital have written an open letter to the Chancellor urging for support for charities and are also planning to set up an emergency loan fund for charities. The fund will pool resources from a range of social lenders and is expected to amount to £100m. The final figure will depend on how many lenders take part, and more details will be shared next week.

 


UPDATE 26 March 2020

  • Today, we launched our #EveryDayCounts public campaign to ask our members and the wider sector to take action by writing to their MP and joining the effort on social media and other media by telling your stories directly about how the coronavirus crisis is affecting your charity's ability to deliver for your beneficiaries and your community. We need you to take part and join our community in asking government to act.
  • Today the Chancellor announced a new Self Employment Income Support Scheme whereby self-employed workers can apply for a grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits to help them cope with the financial impact of coronavirus. Up to £2,500 a month will be paid in a single lump sum to those eligible, but will not begin to arrive until the start of June at the earliest. The scheme is not available yet and HMRC will contact those whom it thinks to be eligible. CFG are exploring how this impacts those working for charities and whether those trading via a Limited Company are eligible.
  • The government published guidance on Deferral of VAT payments due to Coronavirus explaining the temporary changes to the VAT payments due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020 to help businesses manage their cash flow.
  • Government have issued updated guidance on the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme. Following the announcement on 23 March 2020 of further measures to limit the spread of coronavirus, the government confirmed that that some of the exclusions for this relief, such as estate agents and letting agents, have been removed, so that retail, leisure, and hospitality properties that will have been forced to close as a result of the COVID-19 restriction measures will now be eligible for the relief.
  • Government has issued guidance on the Small Business Grant Fund. This guidance sets out details of eligibility and delivery of the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF). It is CFG's understanding that these grants are predicated on various conditions, critically the businesses must already be in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief, Rural Rates Relief or Expanded Retail Discount. Because Charities claim Charitable Rate Relief they fall outside this scheme. We will be lobbying for policy change on this issue.
  • Writing in the Telegraph yesterday, former Charities Minister, Rob Wilson, said it is vital that the government acts quickly to support the sector, echoing our asks.

UPDATE 25 March 2020

  • Watch Tracy Brabin MP at PMQs asking the PM for support for charities, echoing our asks. And the PM confirming that the Chancellor is talking to the Culture Secretary about a package of measures. Watch this space!
  • The House of Lords held an interesting debate last night and questions echoing our asks for support for the sector were put to Minister for Civil Society, Diana Barran. You can listen and watch here.
  • Volunteering Matters have issued guidance on how to volunteer safely during this time to offer advice to organisations or groups who want to get their people volunteering safely, for the first time or maybe doing different activities. From 23 March volunteering should only be for essential services such as providing shopping for someone unable to access food and medicine, and this should be done as infrequently as possible. You may also need to provide care to help a vulnerable person
  • Bates Wells have issued practical guidance on how the Coronavirus Job Scheme works in practice. It is our view that it still does not work for the vast majority of charities and NFPs that cannot furlough staff and that even for those for whom it might work there are practical obstacles to ensuring the funds are released rapidly enough.
  • The the Scottish Government has launched a Third Sector Resilience fund offering organisations and social enterprises grants of £5,000-£100,000 to stabilise and manage cash-flows

 


UPDATE 24 March 2020

  • HMRC have issued advice to cancel any Direct Debits for deferred VAT to ensure that this is not collected. The guidance states "Customers who normally pay by direct debit should cancel their direct debit with their bank if they are unable to pay. Please do so in sufficient time so that HMRC do not attempt to automatically collect on receipt of your VAT return."
  • The Charity SORP Body has issued guidance for trustees and preparers of charity accounts looking at the potential impact of the control measures to contain COVID-19 on financial reporting by charities. The guidance considers the implications for the trustees’ annual report, going concern and the alternative basis to going concern when preparing accounts under the SORP.
  • NHS Volunteer Responder appeal has been launched to support the NHS during the COVID-19 outbreak. There are a number of roles needed, some desk based.

UPDATE 23 March 2020

  • Are you looking after yourself during the crisis? Read our latest blog with wellbeing advice and resources to help you and your team manage.
  • The Prime Minister at today's briefing announced strict new curbs on public life, with everyone being told to stay at home and all non essential shops and businesses ordered to close. Citizens can only leave home for basic shopping, exercise, medical treatment and essential work. More information was published in a guidance note
  • The Chair of the DCMS Select Committee has written to the DCMS Secretary of State, Oliver Dowden MP about the impact of Coronavirus on culture, tourism, charities and sport, echoing our asks for the charity sector.
  • The British Business Bank has today issued information on how organisations can access and apply for the Business Interruption Loans. However, the eligibility criteria confirm that organisations, including charities, will need to generate more than 50% of their income through trading activity. We are seeking clarity on what is defined as trading activity, however, this still will exclude the majority of charities.
  • The Pensions Regulator have issued guidance for pension scheme employers, trustees and administrators for managing through the coronavirus crisis. Whilst the obligation to keep making payments continues, the Regulator acknowledges there may be some breaches and will maintain a fair and proportionate approach.
  • The government have published a Procurement Note that sets out information and guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers to ensure service continuity during and after the current coronavirus outbreak. This is welcome news to ensure charities contracting for services continue to receive payments.

UPDATE 21 March 2020

Yes, updates even on a Saturday, but unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures!

Following our joint press release yesterday and a concentrated and united lobbying and campaigning effort from all sector infrastructure bodies, Stephen Doughty MP/AS together with over 100 MPs and Peers from 7 parties, has written to the Chancellor, Number 10 and the Charities Minister, to support our asks and call for further clarity and urgent action to support charities. Please show your support on social media if you can, using the hashtag #EveryDayCounts, or by writing to your MP and sharing your charity's experience and position.


UPDATE 20 March 2020

CFG, ACEVO, IoF, NCVO and other charity infrastructure bodies are working together tirelessly to make the case to government that the charity sector needs swift, simple and substantial support if the sector is to survive through the Coronavirus crisis and help our beneficiaries and communities. We have issued a joint press statement and please look out for further media coverage over the coming days. If you would like to lend your voice and support, please share with your networks, local media outlets and on social media using the hashtag #EveryDayCounts. Send us your case studies of how the impacts of Coronavirus are being felt in your charity to policy@cfg.org.uk

Chancellor's Announcements today

The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak MP in today's Coronavirus briefing announced a substantial package of measures for business and individuals. He called them 'unprecedented measures for unprecedented times' and nobody would disagree. Amongst the measures announced were:

  • A #coronavirus job retention scheme ( also available to charities), where organisations can apply to HMRC for grants to cover 80% of wages backdated to 1 March. The funding for the scheme is unlimited but there will be a £2,500 a month limit through PAYE. First grants paid by the end of April.
  • The coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be interest free for 12 months available from Monday. It will also be open larger and medium sized businesses - but it is still to be determined if this is also available to charities.
  • Next quarter VAT payments deferred until mid June and bills don't need to be paid until the end of the financial year - it's unclear if this is also applies to charities, but we assume so.

The full details of the measures are set out on gov.uk

When asked a direct question about support for charities, the Chancellor replied that he and the government were talking with the Communities Secretary ( Oliver Dowden MP) and the charity sector and is considering support needed for voluntary and community groups.

Whilst this is encouraging, we need the Chancellor and government to appreciate the scale of the issue for the charity sector and that more action is swiftly needed. The Coronavirus Job Protection Scheme, though very welcome, will not help charities who cannot lay off ( or furlough ) staff and need to keep them working safely to deliver much needed services. The deferment of VAT payments assumes that income will be recovered. That is simply not the case for charities whose fundraising and trading income has been permanently lost.

It's not just the community groups that need support, it's also the medium and larger household name charities whose reserves have been depleted and whose sources of income have not just been deferred but lost, while costs and demand are increasing.

We need you to get the message to your MPs and supporters that #EveryDayCounts for a swift, simple substantial package of support for charities.

Other Updates

Advice from our Corporate Members:

 


UPDATE 19 March 2020

  • We can confirm that due to the Coronavirus HMRC have postponed the implementation of IR35 until 6 April 2021.
  • Based on ongoing conversation with government we expect further guidance on whether the support measures put forward for business by the chancellor in light of Covid-19 will apply to the charity sector. We expect further guidance during the week beginning the 23rd March. We will provide an update as soon as we hear more.
  • We have joined together with Volunteering Matters and other leading organisations that support both the charity sector and volunteering initiatives across the UK to ask for your help. We are uniting our resources around this unprecedented challenge, and we are combining our resources and asks to make it easy for people to support the sector and their communities during this time.
  • Specialist charity audit firm, Sayer Vincent, have produced an update on the advice for all charities to consider in order to build short term financial resilience and the different kinds of support that are available.
  • Audit firm, MHA, have also written a Coronavirus guide based on general guidance and short term action planning.
  • Martin Lewis has launched a £1m fund for urgent small charity Coronavirus poverty relief

 

 


UPDATE 18 March 2020

  • The Charity Commission has said that any charity experiencing difficulties filing their annual return due to impacts of Coronavirus can request a filing extension.
  • The National Emergencies Trust (NET) has launched a fundraising appeal to help those most affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak
  • The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development ( CIPD) have made all their resources for dealing with the Coronavirus free to non members
  • The Association of British Insurers yesterday issued a statement. For queries on insurance, we recommend you get in touch with your insurance broker or insurer to clarify specifically what cover you have in place and if closure due to Coronavirus is covered. Cover will differ from charity to charity and which product and insurer you are using. We are talking to our corporate partners on this issue and will update as soon as we have more information.
  • The Mayor of London with City Bridge Trust and London Funders has launched a £1m emergency support fund to organisations facing immediate financial pressures and uncertainty because of the Coronavirus. These include increasing demands for services, higher staff absences, fewer volunteers and lower donations.
  • Read a case study from CFG member, NCT, on how Coronavirus is impacting their financial sustainability.

 


We have spoken to our corporate partners and charity members to collate information which might be useful for those working in charity finance to guide any action you may take. This page will be updated on a regular basis as the situation develops and as more information becomes available.

We would also recommend you look at the guidance produced by NCVO and the IOF for wider information on what steps your charity might need to make due to the Covid-19 virus.

Business continuity planning

Your organisation’s business continuity plan will be a good starting point for considering what factors need to be taken into account. But this will vary greatly depending on the kind of charity you are; for instance, health and social care charities will have very different considerations to animal charities, as Naziar Hashemi, partner at Crowe has observed here. Most plans are set up to respond to one-off events rather than deep crisis of the kind that Covid-19 presents. But there are certain steps to consider in most cases:

  • In the near future consider looking again at your strategy to ensure it is achievable in light of the impact on your finances.

  • Charities need to consider the financial and reputational implications of any contractual obligations. These include cancellation of events at visitor attractions or entertainment venues or other events such as participation in the marathons or fun runs or fundraising challenges.
  • There is a great deal of uncertainty on the future financial impacts, so you might want to look at shorter financial planning cycles.

  • Consider the right structure/ decision protocols to help you make decisions in your charity under shorter timescales, recognising that some key decision makers may themselves be unavailable for periods of time.

  • As the situation is constantly developing there will be a need for continuous horizon scanning and the sharing of information between the senior management team and Trustees. Larger organisations have formed ‘Critical Incident Management Teams’ meeting regularly to assess threat level and required response.

  • What are the key indicators for your charity of different scenarios and what action plans do you have in place that correspond to these different scenarios. These might include stress testing scenarios for financial impact.
  • What will the cost implications be of remote working, given that we could see up to a fifth of the UK workforce off sick at the same time.

  • Have conversations with critical supply chains to determine their vulnerability to the virus.

Investments

Recent market moves have been dramatic and speak to the degree of investor uncertainty prevailing at the moment.

  • Generally speaking, the market hasn’t had a dramatic pull back of that nature since the financial crisis of 2008.

  • Aside from the large falls in Oil and Oil related stocks, the market is wrestling to price in the known economic impact of Coronavirus, and that simply won’t be known for some time whilst the virus continues to spread and its impact is felt across many sectors, globally.

  • Many charities take a long term and pragmatic approach to their investments, so short term volatility, albeit uncomfortable, is something many of these clients have witnessed and are happy to withstand. Large market falls can impact the predictability of future income payments by companies in the form of dividends. Investors will be keeping an eye on company news-flow around this.

Liquidity/Cashflow

Charities that rely on income from voluntary sources, such as fundraising, sponsorship or raising funds via events, may see a fall in their income. This is especially true if large events and training you provide for income have to be cancelled due to restrictions on gatherings, or if people have less available disposable income. It is highly likely that this will reduce cash receipts for your organisation. Charities with banking covenants or tight liquidity will be especially concerned.

There are a number of steps you can take to help mitigate these impacts:

  • Finance teams should do cash flow projections under multiple different potential scenarios, updating them as frequently as needed. Keeping an open dialogue with SMT and your board/ trustees.

  • You may also need to draw down reserves to manage cash requirements, but if you do, consider how you will manage these requirements in the short to medium term.

  • Approach your bank to have discussions about temporary overdraft facilities, or to draw down funds from deposit accounts.

Fraud

  • The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has issued a scam alert in relation to the Coronavirus. As of yet, it is uncertain if there is a charity specific threat, but we would encourage you to follow general guidance for fraud prevention in charities.

  • We recommend you follow the Charity Commission’s regulatory alerts about particular vulnerabilities and risks which could affect charities and their operations here.

Insurance

  • Insurance policies need to be reviewed to check what cover, if any, is provided for loss of earnings or other factors arising from what is termed as a ‘notifiable disease’ or an ‘epidemic/pandemic’ and that there are no other exclusions on making claims.

  • From conversations with stakeholders we think the majority of the insurance market will not cover risks that are unknown or unquantifiable such as the effects of Covid-19.

  • The Association of British Insurers has provided the following guidance on commercial insurance policies following the government declaration that the coronavirus is a ‘notifiable disease’ including the following “Standard business insurance policies are designed and priced to cover standard risks, not those that are very unlikely, such as the effects of Covid-19.
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