Lockdown 2: what do charities need to know?

From Thursday 5 November, the second lockdown will come into effect, reintroducing the need to stay at home unless one of the now somewhat more numerous exceptions apply. Some of these exceptions will assist the charity and voluntary sector.

For example, you are permitted to leave your home:

  • to provide voluntary or charitable services, where you cannot do this from home, including to fulfil legal obligations, or
  • to access services provided by voluntary or charitable services, including food banks.

You are also permitted to meet in larger groups, which would otherwise be prohibited by the regulations, where:

  • the gathering is reasonably necessary for the provision of voluntary or charitable services, or
  • the gathering is a support group organised by a charity for certain classes of people.

In a similar fashion to the exception to the rule of six from September, these exceptions to the new regulations may well be of use to charity trustees for the purposes of trustee meetings which cannot be postponed or otherwise held electronically and which are reasonably necessary for the provision of charitable services.

There are also exceptions in the regulations that allow for the opening of some premises, such as community centres and places of worship, for the provision of essential voluntary activities (such as food banks and support for the homeless), and for the provision of the above mentioned support groups. 

Support from Government:

Rachel Maskell MP asked the Prime Minister what additional support will now be available for charities, and he replied “much more over the winter period”. It remains to be seen what will actually be forthcoming.

Employment:

On 31 October, just before the original CJRS was due to end, the Government announced its extension for a further month. During November it is expected to operate in much the same way, but some rules may change.

The most obvious point of difference is that employers will no longer have to contribute to staff wage costs (other than NI and pension contributions). For more information, see our FAQs on the scheme.

As before, charities are eligible for the re-introduced furlough scheme. However, as before, it is hard to see how this will help charities struggling with an increase in demand for their services, and for that reason not able to mothball operations for a month.

Retail operations:

The lockdown is clearly very bad news for charities with retail operations that will need to close for four weeks during the so-called “golden” quarter for sales.

To help charities manage this development, the Charity Retail Association has updated its free to access shop closure pack, which some charities may find useful.

Fundraising activities:

Face-to-face fundraising must yet again cease. Charities should, it is to be hoped, already be aware of the recent announcement by the Fundraising Regulator and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising on 3 November, which states:

we expect charities and their partners to pause public fundraising activities (including door-to-door, street, and private site fundraising) for the duration of the new restrictions.

What guidance is there for charities?

General guidance on the new national restrictions from the Cabinet Office for has been issued, but the Charity Commission has not yet updated its guidance. It is to be anticipated this will be forthcoming shortly.

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