Coronavirus: Charity leaders to address MPs over increased demand and govt support

Charity leaders are set to address MPs today over the increased demand on the sector amid the coronavirus crisis.

Charities will give evidence to MPs from the DCMS Committee remotely on 31 March to discuss the level of government support needed to ensure their survival as a result of pressures caused by the pandemic.

The committee has said it will consider the increased demand facing charities 'at a time of growing financial pressures, with the future of some organisations being put at risk'.

The DCMS said MPs are also concerned about the long-term impact on charities.

Chair of the committee, Julian Knight has urged the government to take 'immediate action' to safeguard the sector after over 100 MPs signed a letter to the chancellor asking for greater financial support for charities.

DCMS Secretary of State Oliver Dowden has been called upon to confirm whether funding would be available for charitable and voluntary organisations working directly on tackling coronavirus and to charities at risk of insolvency.

Witnesses to the session will include NCVO chief executive, Karl Wilding, St John Ambulance CEO, Martin Houghton-Brown and Motor Neurone Disease Association director of engagement, Chris Wade.

News of the meeting follows publication of calculations made by the NCVO and other sector bodies, which revealed the sector could have £4.3bn wiped from its total income over the next few months.

Umbrella bodies including the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), Charity Finance Group (CFG), the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) and the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations (Acevo), said charities across the country are facing ‘imminent collapse as fundraising income dries up’.

Charities have already been in conversation with the government about a package to support the sector, but last week warned that without an urgent injection of cash, many charities would start to close their doors in as little as a week.

Over the past couple of weeks fundraising events have been cancelled across the sector, while shop doors have closed, and reserves have been depleted.

Many charities would normally expect to make significant proportions of their income from public fundraising events in spring and summer – a loss that contributes to the majority of the billions of pounds expected to be wiped from the sector.

Commenting, NCVO chief executive, Karl Wilding, said “every day counts here”.

“I’m hearing from charities whose income has disappeared overnight but who still have to run services for their communities. Many of them have very little emergency cash to tide them over, and even those that do will run out in a matter of weeks,” he said.

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