Coronavirus (COVID-19) Charity funding & financial FAQs

Are there any cash grants or reliefs available to us to help us get through COVID-19?
Grant Funding for Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Charities and Social Enterprises

The government has introduced the Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme which can provide UK charities and social enterprises in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property.

For UK charities and social enterprises in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000.

For UK charities and social enterprises in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

To be eligible, charities and social enterprises in the retail, hospitality or leisure sector must have property wholly or mainly being used:

  1. as shops (including charity shops), restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  2. for assembly and leisure, or
  3. as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation.

No applications are required as the relevant local authority will write to all that are eligible for this grant.

12-month Business Rates Holiday for all Retail, Hospitality, Leisure and Nursery Charities and Social Enterprises in England

A business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure charities and social enterprises in England is also being introduced by the government covering the 2020/2021 tax year. The relief is beneficial to charities as they are only guaranteed 80% relief, so the holiday for the remainder is welcome.

UK charities and social enterprises will be eligible for the business rates holiday if they fall into the retail, hospitality, leisure or nurseries sector and where properties are wholly or mainly being used:

  1. as shops (including charity shops), restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  2. for assembly and leisure
  3. as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation, or
  4. for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

No applications are required as the relief should be automatically applied to council tax bills in April 2020.

Small Business Grant Funding of £10,000 for all Charities and Social Enterprises in Receipt of Small Business Rate Relief

Additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding will be provided by the Government in order that local authorities can support small charities and social enterprises that pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief, rural rate relief and tapered relief. 

This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible charities and social enterprises to help meet their ongoing costs.

UK charities and social enterprises will be eligible if:

  1. they are based in England;
  2. they already receive small business rate relief and/or rural rate relief; and
  3. they occupy property.

No applications are required as the relevant local authority will write to charities and social enterprises that are eligible for this grant.

Can we use our reserves and restricted funds to help our charity through the crisis?

We understand that many charities are currently very concerned about their financial position. The Charity Commission has issued some guidance on the factors that charities need to take into account when considering using reserves or restricted funds in these difficult times.

In the first instance, trustees should consider what are their short, medium and longer-term priorities, and see if they need to amend their financial planning given their current situation. Trustees are encouraged in particular to think about whether or not certain projects, spends or activities can be stopped or delayed in order to focus on essential spending if they are facing financial challenges at this time.

Reserves can be spent to help cope with unexpected events like those unfolding at present.

Trustees should identify which of the charity’s funds or assets have limits on their use. If these are internal only - for example the charity has decided to earmark certain funds for a particular purpose - you may be able to re-prioritise these. If they are restricted funds, meaning they cannot be spent at the trustees’ discretion, then they may only be used for a particular and defined purpose. For example, a fundraising appeal may restrict funds to a specific purpose, or if you have a permanent endowment, it may have restrictions on selling it to release funds.

If there are restrictions, in some instances there may be ways to amend these restrictions, but accessing or releasing restricted funds should only be considered if other options such as reserves are not possible. The Commission encourages you to also carefully consider the wider and longer-term impacts of making such a decision on your financial resilience and donor relationships. The Commission recommends obtaining professional advice when considering these issues.

All decisions on such financial matters should normally be taken collectively, and significant decisions and action points noted in writing. The Commission has further more detailed guidance on financial resilience; on charity reserves; and a general tool to help trustees work out what to focus on.

We would like to use our grant funding in a different way to the purposes outlined in our grant agreement so that we can adapt to the current challenges that we are facing.  Is this possible?

The key here is to communicate early with your grant funder.  Get in touch with them and discuss the challenges that you are facing.  Make sure anything agreed is documented, for example, by email and then reported appropriately within your organisation and to the board of trustees.

Many grant funders are offering more flexibility around funding requirements.  For example:

  • Some funders are offering flexibility for grant recipients to change the focus of a grant so that charities can respond to the impact of Coronavirus on their service users.
  • Some funders have offered not to withhold payments if you have not met the outcomes for the previous year as a result of the impact of Coronavirus.
  • In exceptional circumstances, the next annual payment may be made even if you are not able to complete the required monitoring report due to disruption.  Grant funders have said that they will put in place procedures to follow up on these cases once the situation has calmed down and ‘normal’ operations start to resume
We are due to submit an annual monitoring report to our grant funder in advance of the release of our next annual grant payment.  We are struggling to complete the report because of the disruption.  What should we do?

The key here is to communicate early with your grant funder.  Get in touch with them and discuss the challenges that you are facing.  Make sure anything agreed is documented, for example, by email and then reported appropriately within your organisation and to the board of trustees.

Many grant funders are offering more flexibility around funding requirements.  For example:

  • Some funders are offering flexibility for grant recipients to change the focus of a grant so that charities can respond to the impact of Coronavirus on their service users.
  • Some funders have offered not to withhold payments if you have not met the outcomes for the previous year as a result of the impact of Coronavirus.
  • In exceptional circumstances, the next annual payment may be made even if you are not able to complete the required monitoring report due to disruption.  Grant funders have said that they will put in place procedures to follow up on these cases once the situation has calmed down and ‘normal’ operations start to resume

The law and practice referred to in this article or webinar has been paraphrased or summarised. It might not be up-to-date with changes in the law and we do not guarantee the accuracy of any information provided at the time of reading. It should not be construed or relied upon as legal advice in relation to a specific set of circumstances.

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