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The Government has launched a hub for businesses to help the voluntary sector the day after a parliamentary report criticised its own support for the sector.
The Government has set up a hub for businesses to offer support to the voluntary, community and social enterprise [VCSE] sector as a key parliamentary committee criticises the financial support it has provided.
The Government says the Crown Commercial Service (CCS) will act as a central hub where offers of support from businesses are being assessed against needs arising from the COVID-19 response, including if businesses have the capacity to provide for free or at a reduced cost:
CCS has a catalogue of offers of support from businesses which public and VCSE sector organisations can access.
The Government is also encouraging businesses to enable staff to volunteer in community service organisations. It says business support can supplement the £750m of additional funding it has offered the sector to address the issues it is facing during the coronavirus pandemic.
The announcement came the day after a Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee inquiry said the Government has not provided enough support to the charity sector during the crisis, which it said will result in ‘untold damage to individuals and communities’ if services are lost. Chair Julian Knight added that the money that has been made available by Government “goes nowhere near replacing the income that many charities have lost”.
The report calls on the Government to act within the next month to increase its support and to ensure it is also available to charities facing hardship but not directly working on tackling Covid-19, saying that losing these charities ‘cannot be allowed to happen’. It also recommends the setting-up of a stabilisation fund to assist organisations to stay afloat.
It states that a lack of clarity about how the £750 million will be allocated means charities are unclear about their eligibility and how they should apply, which “means deserving charities will miss out on much-needed support”.
The Government has also today announced a new £617m discretionary fund for local authorities in England to help businesses who have ongoing fixed property-related costs and were previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.