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COVID-19 | Back to work advice

Developing a contingency plan and how your insurance will be impacted

  • You need to plan for how your organisation will run if a significant proportion of staff or volunteers were unavailable. Who will make decisions about your operations, how and when?
  • Given the fast-changing situation, as far as possible, try to focus on the immediate future – over the next week or so – rather than trying to make firm plans based on what the situation might be beyond that.
  • Every insurance policy will have varying terms and conditions so you should check directly with your insurance company or broker.

Immediate actions to manage your finances

The implications of covid-19 will create a financial crunch and charities should now do what they can to prepare for this. These are a few things you may want to consider.

  • Focus on cash flow management.
  • Know what your fixed costs are and when you will need to pay them.
  • Delay committing to any expenditure that you can.
  • Chase all outstanding debts.
  • Invoice for all services already delivered and then ensure that these invoices are paid.
  • If you are receiving funding, submit any required reports on time to make sure that you receive future instalments on time.
  • Talk to your bank manager and see if they will offer you an overdraft facility (even if you don’t need one right now).
  • If you have loan repayments the lender may be willing to delay the capital repayment.
  • Implement a recruitment freeze on all vacant posts.
  • On 23 April the government provided a summary of key considerations and practical tips for charities to manage their finances. These are intended as a starting point. to assist charities with identifying options which could help with current financial challenges.
  • The Charity Finance Group has compiled a guide for charity finance professionals which will be updated with new information and advice as the crisis unfolds.
  • Haysmacintyre are collating, analysing and providing insights on the various financial, tax and accounting measures and initiatives being announced.
  • On 16 April government announced that charities are permitted to claim gift aid on ticket sales for events that have been cancelled due to covid-19 and the delegate has decided to convert the ticket sale into a donation rather than request a refund.
  • Charities may be eligible to receive support with their tax affairs through HMRC’s Time To Pay service. You can call the HMRC on 0800 0159 559 but it may take some time to get through as demand is high.
  • Charities may consider to applying for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and furlough staff. For more information see our section on furloughing.

Coronavirus job retention scheme (furloughing)

  • The coronavirus job retention scheme gives employers access to support from HMRC to continue paying wages and avoid laying off staff or making them redundant due to the covid-19 pandemic.
  • Employees can be furloughed and kept on the payroll. They should not work during this time but will remain employed.
  • The scheme is open to all UK employers that had a PAYE scheme in place on 19 March 2020, including charities and not-for-profit organisations.
  • Where staff are furloughed employers can apply for a grant to claim up to 80% of wage costs up to a cap of £2,500 per month, plus the associated employer national insurance contributions and minimum auto enrolment pension contributions. Wages of furloughed employees will remain subject to income tax and other usual deductions.
  • Employers can choose to top up salaries to 100%.
  • On 11 May the government announced that the scheme will continue until the end of October.
  • The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July.
  • From the start of August, new flexibility will be introduced which will allow furloughed workers to work part-time.
  • Employers will be asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff to ensure that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.
  • More information on this extension are due at the end of May.
  • All staff employed before or on 19 March 2020 are eligible for the scheme, including ‘casual’ or zero-hour staff.
  • Employees who left an organisation after 28 February 2020 can be re-hired and placed on furlough. This includes employees made redundant due to the covid-19 crisis.
  • 1 March 2020 is the earliest day employers can claim from. They can back-date to the day the employee stopped working, not the date when the decision was made to furlough.
  • To be eligible for funding, furlough must be for a minimum of three weeks. It’s possible to rotate furlough among employees and furlough staff more than once, as long as each employee is furloughed for at least three weeks.
  • While being furloughed, an employee must not work, volunteer or generate income for or on behalf of their employer. They can undertake training and volunteer elsewhere as long as they are not making money or providing services for their employer.
  • For a detailed overview of what furloughing means for those who want to volunteer or take on volunteers, please read our blog on furloughing and volunteering.
  • Unless there is a term allowing furlough in employees’ contracts, you’ll need your employees’ consent to furlough them. This should be confirmed in writing with a record kept for five years.
  • If only some employees are furloughed, consideration should be given to capacity and demand. You must be careful not to discriminate and to make furloughing decisions based on roles, not on personal characteristics. It may be appropriate to use a similar selection process as in a redundancy situation.
  • Employees on sick leave or in self-isolation due to covid-19 can be furloughed once their sickness or self-isolation period ends. The government’s guidance on the scheme has more detail about this.
  • Employees who are unable to work from home because of childcare or other caring commitments can apply to be furloughed.
  • Employees who are unable to work because they are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay home with someone who is shielding) are eligible to be furloughed.
  • Public sector organisations and organisations receiving public funding specifically for salary costs are expected to continue to use that funding for salary costs rather than furloughing staff. See our blog post on what the government’s covid-19 procurement guidance means for charities for more information.
  • For more information on the scheme, see guidance from HR consultancy Cronerinformation and an FAQ from HR Services Partnership, and information and a downloadable webinar from Bates Wells.

Coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS)

  • The coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS) supports small and medium-sized businesses, with an annual turnover of up to £45m, to access loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5m for up to six years.
  • Under the scheme, charities can access loans of up to £5m for up to six years. The government also covers the first 12 months of interest payments and any lender-levied fees.
  • At the end of April, the British Business Bank confirmed that registered charities are exempt from the requirement that 50% of the applicant’s income must be derived from its trading activity.
  • In order to be eligible for the scheme, charities must now:
    • be based in the UK
    • have a turnover below £45m
    • have a viable borrowing proposal
    • be able to show they have been adversely impacted by covid-19.
  • When considering the scheme, charities must note that loans commit charities to long-term interest payments and trustees will need to check they have the power to agree loans and weigh up options before applying.
  • Some key issues to consider:
    • Is taking on debt is in the best interests of the charity and its beneficiaries both now and in the future?
    • What will the loan allow you to do and could this be achieved through other means eg partnership working?
    • Although the loans are now available to charities, some charities will have restrictions in their governing documents which prevent or restrict their borrowing. Trustees should check they have the power to borrow before agreeing a loan.
    • As with any loan, trustees must examine financial forecasts. This involves assessing your expected unrestricted income and outgoings over the coming years. Are you able to repay the loan and what are the implications on servicing dept on the ability to deliver your purpose?
    • Although loans up to £250,000 carry no personal guarantee, higher loans may. This means there could be implications for individual liability and trustees should understand this risk by discussing it with their lender.
    • A charity’s legal form also has implications for signing off loans and the personal risks involved. Although we understand larger unincorporated organisations will be eligible, trustees of these organisations need to be aware that there are increased risks for their personal liability.

Bounce back loan

  • On 4 May, the government launched the bounce back loan scheme which aims to help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.
  • The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there will be no fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.
  • Loan terms will be up to six years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans.
  • As with the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme (CBILS), the requirement that 50% of your income must come from trading has been waived for charities.
  • In order to be eligible for the scheme, charities must satisfy the following criteria:
    • Be based in the UK
    • Be able to show your charity has been adversely impacted by covid-19
  • Charities cannot apply if they are already claiming under CBILS.
  • However, if your charity has received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the bounce back loan scheme, you arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.
  • More information on how to apply can be found on the British Business Bank website.

What to expect from funders

We think funders should take a supportive and pragmatic approach to helping the organisations they fund throughout this period.

  • Speak to your funders about the impact of cancelling or delaying project activities which are part of funding agreements.
  • London Funders has released a joint statement, signed by an alliance of funders from across sectors, pledging to offer support to civil society groups affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The Association of Charitable Funders have encouraged funders to contact their grantees and discuss how they can best support them.
  • Arts Council England will refocus grant programmes to support artists and freelancers who have lost income.
  • The Blagrave Trust has written to grant holders to reassure them of their continued support and flexibility around awarded funding and how it can be used.
  • In addition to signing the London Funders’ joint statement, the City Bridge Trust is promoting a survey from London Plus to assess the impact of covid-19 on London’s civil society.
  • Esmée Fairbairn is offering flexibility with payments and reporting dates and is offering grants plus support.
  • The Garfield Weston Foundation is continuing to support its grantees and will be as flexible as possible regarding projects and timelines.
  • Good Finance has released a joint statement from social funders stating their continued support and flexibility for all the organisations that they invest in.
  • JRF is focusing its efforts to support people on low incomes by working closely with people with direct experience of poverty and listening to their concerns.
  • Locality has created a page that sets out some of the funding available for charities during the covid-19 pandemic.
  • The National Lottery Community Fund will continue to honour their current commitments and will continue to be flexible with existing grants. But over the next six months they will prioritise covid-19 and charities that are best placed to support affected communities.
  • Nesta will continue to support grantees and will be flexible if grantees need to stop work or change the work they are doing.
  • The Paul Hamlyn Foundation are adjusting reporting requirements and/or suspending them.
  • The UK Community Foundations is looking to coordinate its network of community foundations and partners to respond to the impact covid-19 will have on those they support.
  • The William Grant Foundation has converted all existing revenue grants to unrestricted for the current year.
  • In Scotland the Corra Foundation will continue to support grantees.
  • The Community Foundation will offer emergency funding for community organisations in Northern Ireland to assist older people who have been affected by covid-19.
  • Pears Foundation has been in touch with all its grantees offering support and flexibility. The foundation will increase expenditure by 50% this year with as much of it as possible going to core funding.

Charity funding from the government 

The government is providing a £750m support package for UK charities during the coronavirus outbreak. The government is currently drawing up plans for the design and delivery of the funding, on 20 May they announced details of the coronavirus community support fund, see below for more information. This is what we know:

Of the total £750m, £360m will be allocated by the government departments to charities providing ‘key services’ and supporting vulnerable people during the crisis. What constitutes a ‘vulnerable person’ is yet to be determined. This includes:

  • £200m for hospices to help increase capacity and stability.
  • St John Ambulance to support the NHS, for Citizens Advice to increase the number of staff providing advice and for charities supporting vulnerable children.

The government departments will be identifying priority recipients with the aim for charities to receive money in the coming weeks. We will update this page as details emerge.

In addition, the government has announced several smaller pots of funding for charities working in the following areas. This includes:

  • £2m for charities that provide domestic abuse helplines and online support
  • 20m to international development charities and a further £50m for the Red Cross for their work in difficult to reach areas such as those suffering from armed conflict
  • £5m for leading mental health charities to expand support services.

Applications for £200m in government funding are open – the coronavirus community support fund is aimed primarily at small-to-medium organisations in England. The fund has two key objectives:

  1. To increase community support to vulnerable people affected by the covid-19 crisis, through the work of civil society organisations
  2. To reduce temporary closures of essential charities and social enterprises, making sure services for vulnerable people impacted by covid-19 have the financial resources to operate, and so reduce the burden on public services

Starting with a contribution of at least £20m to the National Emergencies Trust, the government will also match public donations to the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal on 23 April.

This support builds on other measures announced by the government: the coronavirus job retention scheme, coronavirus business interruption loan scheme, and the deferment of VAT bills and business rates discounts for some types of charity.

Other funding opportunities for charities

This is not an exhaustive list of funding. For other funding pots, including local and regional opportunities, check out Funding Central, the Directory for Social ChangeLocality and Charity Excellence.

The Association of Charitable Organisations has published guidance for organisations looking to set up new funds to provide financial grants to individuals adversely impacted by the covid-19 outbreak. The guide identifies the key considerations and minimum requirements for establishing grant making operations to support individuals during the present pandemic.

National Emergencies Trust (NET) Coronavirus Appeal

NET is helping grassroots charities and groups supporting some of society’s most vulnerable people throughout the outbreak. Organisations looking for funding should contact their local community foundation. More details, including a list of the 45 community foundations in England.

Big Society Capital loans and investment

A £100m programme of loans and investment for social enterprises, charities and small businesses in disadvantaged areas affected by coronavirus. It includes small, emergency loans with no fee and no interest for 12 months.

National Lottery Community Fund (NLCF)

All funding decisions for the next six months (up to £300m of National Lottery funding) will be devoted to addressing needs related to covid-19. NLCF will prioritise activities for supporting communities through the crisis and help organisations overcome financial issues, by delivering faster payments for existing grant holders and applicants. More information on this fund.

National Lottery heritage fund

A £50m emergency fund of grants of between £3,000 and £50,000 available for organisations supporting:

  • historic sites
  • industrial and maritime heritage
  • museums
  • libraries and archives
  • parks and gardens
  • landscapes
  • nature.

Priority will be given where there is limited or no access to other sources of support and an organisation is at risk of severe financial crisis due to covid-19. More information on this fund.

National Lottery Awards for All England

Grants of £300 to £10,000 with priority given to organisations:

  • supporting people who are at high risk from covid-19
  • supporting communities most likely to face increased demand and challenges as a direct result of measures to prevent the result of covid-19
  • with high potential to support communities with the direct and indirect impact of covid-19


Sport England coronavirus support fund

  • £195m programme of grants between £300 and £10,000 for clubs and community organisations
  • £5m pot for existing partners to bid into if they are facing specific financial difficulty
  •  £55m fund to support the sector during the ongoing period of restrictions
  • £115m rollover of current funding into 2021/22 for over 100 established partners.


Arts Council England

£160m of emergency funding is available to ensure organisations and individuals working in the cultural sector are protected during the crisis. The council has also changed the funding requirements for individuals and organisations currently receiving its funding

Barclays Foundation charity partners programme

A £50m fund to help disadvantaged people suffering from social and economic deprivation, the elderly and vulnerable communities most at risk from covid-19, and to support NHS staff and other keyworker communities. Funding will be deployed via partnerships with trusted charities.

Comic Relief

Some money raised through Sport Relief 2020 will go to frontline organisations. Support for grantees will occur through adapting activities, reviewing time-frames, or re-budgeting remaining funds.They will update their website and the FAQ’s with more information over the next few days.

Barclays’ 100×100 UK covid-19 community relief programme 

Barcleys are making 100 donations of £100,000 each to UK charities working to support vulnerable communities impacted by covid-19, and the associated social and economic hardship caused by the crisis. The programme will focus on supporting charity partners who are meeting the immediate needs of people in our communities, including low income families, those facing financial hardship, isolated elderly people and key workers. UK registered charities are invited to apply for a donation to support their relief work by the closing date of Friday 22 May 2020.

London Community Response Fund – crisis response programme

Grants of up to £10,000 to enable organisations to meet the immediate needs of their communities.For example, food, essentials and short-term staffing costs.

London Community Response Fund – delivering differently programme

Grants between £10,000 and £50,000 for organisations to change the way they work to meet community needs under lockdown conditions. The deadline to apply is 5 pm on Tuesday, 19th May.  More information on this fund.

London Community Response Fund

Grants of up to £10,000 are available for organisations meeting the immediate needs of communities, from food and essentials, to equipment and additional short-term staff costs. Grants between £10,000 and £50,000 are also available to enable organisations to change the way they deliver their work so it continues to meet the needs of communities during covid-19.

Southwark community response fund

United St SavioursGuy’s and St Thomas’ CharityPeter Minet Trust and Southwark Charities have pooled resources and have assigned a combined total of £455,000 in emergency funding for Southwark communities. Apply through the London Community Response Fund.

The Sir Jules Thorn Charitable Trust

Grants of up to £1,500 for eligible small charities. Requests are considered for contributions to core funding or for specific projects. There are no reporting requirements.

The Bring Joy Foundation

Funding for local community groups to supply craft materials, activities, communication tools and assistive technology to seniors to support them in their isolation. Visit the foundation’s website for more details.

The Teaching Staff Trust

Support for teachers, teaching assistants, nursery workers, caretakers and lunch supervisors who have worked within the education sector for at least five years. Grant can be used to help with bills, household costs, travel or other essentials.

The Dulverton Trust

Support for charities working to produce significant impact in youth opportunities, general welfare, conservation, preservation in Africa or peace and humanitarian support. When considering applications, the charity is keen to know whether applicants have already explored all options for financial support, including the government schemes and emergency funds before seeking funding from the Trust. Further details are available on the website.

Support Adoption for Pets 

The largest grant giving charity in the UK for animal welfare charities is providing an additional £400,000 to local animal sanctuaries suffering as a result of the covid-19 outbreak. Grants range from £1,000 – £180,000.

Buttle UK – Chances for Children

Grants targeted at improving the social and emotional wellbeing of children and young people and their capacity to engage in education and learning. There is a particular focus on:

  • maintaining educational activity and stimulus within the home environment
  • establishing and/or maintaining internet access and communications
  • household essentials.

The Schroder Charity Trust 

Grants up to £5000 for supporting:

  • education and young people
  • health
  • communities
  • environment and conservation
  • heritage
  • arts and culture
  • international development
  • the armed forces.

Clothworkers’ emergency capital programme (CECP)

Grants of up to £5,000 for essential capital items to adapt or increase services in response to covid-19. Priority will be given to organisations with income of less than £2m per annum supporting vulnerable and ‘at risk’ groups and whose beneficiaries are based outside of London.

Steve Morgan Foundation – covid-19 emergency fund

The fund will provide up to £1m of funding per week for an initial 12-week period. It is open to charities in the foundation’s catchment area (North Wales, Merseyside, Cheshire and North Shropshire) and will help with the costs of emergency services to help people affected with the virus. It will also help charities experiencing a loss of fundraising revenue to stay in business.

Neighbourly community fund

Micro-grants of up to £400 to support good causes that are helping communities affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Grants are awarded to good causes whose work involves supporting members of the community suffering economically, socially or from ill health as a result of the outbreak.

Forever Manchester community support fund

Forever Manchester is offering awards of up to £5,000. The community support fund will accept applications from community groups based in any of the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester. Priority will be given to groups with an annual income of less than £200,000.

Crisis – In This Together grants programme

Local groups who are financially affected by additional demands on their resources and have expanded their provision for those experiencing homelessness can apply for £5,000 short-term response or £50,000 longer-term response grants. Due to high demand, the programme is currently paused, but you can ask to be updated on the programme.

Tesco Bags of Help covid-19 community fund

Tesco is offering support through Bags of Help covid-19 community fund grants of £500 (and food donations), for local group including:

  • women’s refuges
  • food banks
  • hospices
  • homeless charities
  • social isolation groups
  • schools
  • charities supporting the elderly.

Leathersellers’ Company – small grants programme

One-off grants up to £3,000, with a fast track application process. Available to UK registered charities supporting:

  • the homeless or those at risk of becoming homeless
  • provision of food and essential supplies
  • victims of domestic violence
  • nursing care to vulnerable patients.

Yapp Charitable Trust

Grants of up to £3,000 are available to registered charities in England and Wales, with a total annual expenditure of less than £40,000.This would be used to cover core costs and staffing in one of their priority areas.

John Lewis and Waitrose £1m fund

Teams in each store will work with their communities to choose the best way to use the fund. Help could include:

  • setting up additional local delivery services to support self-isolating vulnerable people and those looking after them
  • delivering boxes of staples to local care homes and community groups
  • donating products to create care packages for customers to share with vulnerable neighbours.

Youth Futures Foundation

Development grants between £30,000–£100,000, and impact grants of between £100,000–£800,000 for organisations working with young people aged 14–24 to help overcome barriers to finding meaningful work.

Localgiving and People’s Postcode lottery – magic little grants

Grants of £500 for local charities that support and inspire people to participate in sports or exercise. Localgiving have announced  they will support projects that help people to stay active during social distancing, such as online fitness classes delivered via video conferencing software or Youtube.

Alpkit – go nice places, do good things grant

Grants of £500 for projects that demonstrate an immediate impact on those affected by the covid-19 virus crisis for:

  • helping elderly or vulnerable people
  • minimising the impact of self-isolation
  • supporting foodbanks
  • helping the homeless or those in temporary accommodation.

Antonio Carluccio Foundation

Grants of up to £10,000 for organisations working to feed those in need and promote a better understanding of food origins and nutrition.

Wrap emergency surplus food grant: phase 2

Grants of between £5,000 and £10,000 to fund capital and revenue costs for organisations who can redistribute surplus food from retailers, wholesalers, and food manufacturers, to people in need or those considered vulnerable.

Legal and General coronavirus emergency fund

Grants of £5,000–£10,000 for organisations supporting elderly and vulnerable people through the covid-19 crisis. Closes 20 April.

William Morris Big Local

Grants up to £1000 available to local people, groups and organisations supporting neighbourly volunteering, especially where it’s helping those finding it difficult to access other support. Or positive activities that help keep people, healthy, happy and connected despite the challenges of social distancing.

Social Investment Business – Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund 

The Resilience & Recovery Loan Fund (RRLF) is a new fund for social enterprises and charities who are experiencing disruption to their normal business model as a result of covid-19. Loans of £100,000 – £500,000 are available for those organisations who face a problem because expected income and activity has been delayed or disrupted.

The Association of Dogs and Cats Homes 

One-off grants of up to £10,000 available to animal rescues, to help them continue their vital work during the coronavirus outbreak. Grants will be prioritised for organisations with an annual turnover of £500,000 or less and will help support the cost of food, bedding, cleaning equipment and transportation of animals, as well as additional costs as a result of staff and volunteers not being able to attend the rescue or shelter.

How your investments will be impacted

  • Stock prices have fallen significantly.
  • Charities with stocks investments will see a fall in their investment’s valuation.
  • This could have an impact if your charity uses its investments to secure borrowing.
  • A reduction in stock values could also impact defined liability pension schemes, where the employer guarantees the pension on retirement regardless of what happens to the underlying assets of the scheme. This should be less of an issue provided stocks recover in the medium to long term.
  • In the long term, it’s likely that markets will recover, and investments will regain the value they lost.

Other financial implications

You and your board may want to consider potential financial impacts of the virus’s spread continuing, and what steps you might need to take.

  • You may want to budget for increased contingency costs over the next financial year.
  • You may face increased need for support from people who rely on your organisation.
  • You may also face increased costs if the impact on global trade continues.
  • The Institute of Fundraising has developed guidance for fundraisers in relation to covid-19.
  • Speak to your funders about the impact of cancelling or delaying project activities which are part of funding agreements. The Association of Charitable Funders have encouraged funders to contact their grantees and discuss how they can best support them.
  • The Charity Commission has said that it will take a pragmatic approach to regulation during this period. They’ve said that if you’re due to file an annual return but don’t feel you can, then you can call them to request an extension.
  • If, despite efforts to restructure your finances and make contingencies the trustees foresee that your organisation will be unable to pay its debts as they become due, and the value of its assets are less than the charities liabilities, then trustees should consider guidance on solvency.
  • On 28 March 2020 the government announced changes to the insolvency regime aimed to provide companies breathing space and keep trading through the covid-19 pandemic. There will be a temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic, applied retrospectively from 1 March 2020.
  • In addition, there will be a temporary moratorium for companies undergoing a restructuring process so that they cannot be put into administration by creditors and will continue to be able to pay suppliers and staff.

Further resources

  • Financial procedures manual – templates and guidance for creating a financial procedures manual that will provide a framework for managing your organisation’s finances
  • Risk register template – a framework for identifying, assessing and recording the risks that your organisation faces


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