COVID-19 Support for Charities

Government COVID-19 Funding for Frontline Charities

What is it?

On the 8th April the Chancellor announced that frontline charities across the UK will receive a £750 million package of support to ensure they can continue their work during the coronavirus outbreak. Full details are here but in summary this will include:

  • £360m direct from Government departments which will fund organisations such as:
    • Hospices
    • St John Ambulance
    • Victims’ charities, including domestic abuse
    • Vulnerable children charities
    • Citizens Advice services
  • £370 million for smaller charities, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund. This will support those organisations that are supporting local communities during the outbreak, including those delivering food, essential medicines and providing financial advice
  • A commitment from the Government to match donations to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month, with a minimum pledge of £20 million

How does my charity access this?

There is currently no further guidance on who might qualify or how these grants might be accessed, however we will keep this guidance updated and if necessary, support charities to access these grants once further information is released.

COVID-19 Business Rates Reliefs and Grant Funding for the Retail, Leisure and Hospitality sectors

What is it?

The Expanded Retail Discount (Business Rates Relief) is a 100% business rates relief for eligible occupied properties in England for 2020-21. For charities, this is applied after mandatory (80%) and discretionary business rates relief, so will only be relevant if the charity does not already receive 100% rates relief. Prior to this announcement, business rates bills may have been issued; these should be automatically revised to show no liability.

The Retail Leisure and Hospitality Grant Fund relates to one-off cash grants made available to each occupied and eligible property in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount. Properties that have a rateable value of up to £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000. Properties that have a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Charities which would otherwise meet this criteria, but whose bill for 11 March had been reduced to nil by a local discretionary award should still be considered to be eligible for this grant.

In terms of eligible charities, a detailed list can be found here but relevant operations in the charity sector might include: charity shops, museums, galleries, stately homes and historic houses, holiday lets, sport charity facilities, theatres, tourist attractions, public halls, and clubhouses, clubs and institutions. However, this is not an exhaustive list and local authorities have some discretion to award rates relief and grants.

How does my charity access this?

The grant is accessed through your local authority’s portal, which are currently going live across the country. If yours has not yet gone live, check your local authority webpage periodically. Each Local Authority will present an online verification portal. This process will inform you of your eligibility and allow you the opportunity to update your required information. Further details can also be found in our guide here.

COVID-19 Job Retention Scheme / Furloughing

What is it?

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is a scheme designed to support UK organisations to safeguard redundancies and protect employees’ salaries employees. Any entity with a UK payroll can apply, including charities.

This three month scheme, (starting March 1st 2020) allows organisations to apply for grants that will cover significant proportions of wage costs. For each furloughed employee, a charity can apply for a grant that covers 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.
Eligible charities must have started a PAYE payroll scheme prior to February 28th 2020 and hold a UK bank account.

How does my charity access this?

Submission to access the grants will be via a new online portal which is expected to launch on 20 April, with the first grants being paid to employers by 30 April. As an authorised agent, Sedulo will be able to submit claims on behalf of employers.

Further details and eligibility information can be found in our guide here.

HMRC payments / Time to Pay

What is it?

On 20 March, it was announced that the next quarter of all VAT payments were being deferred, with no VAT payable until the end of June – those payments can be deferred until April 2021. Please note that if a charity is VAT registered, it will still need to file the return on time as usual – only the payment is deferred.

The HMRC Time to Pay Service provides charities who are affected by the impacts of Covid-19 with additional time to pay any outstanding or upcoming tax liabilities (VAT, Corporation Tax, PAYE etc).

How does my charity access this?

Any VAT payments due for the quarter ending 30th June will be automatically deferred and you do not need to contact HMRC – just remember to cancel the direct debit if you have one set up.

Time To Pay arrangements need to be agreed on a case by case basis and we can work with HMRC on your behalf ensuring the best outcome for your charity.

Further guidance and eligibility information can be found here.

Creative Industry Tax Reliefs

What is it?

These are a range of tax reliefs designed to encourage investment in certain arts and media projects. Broadly, they all work in the same manner: eligible organisations can claim an additional deduction on qualifying costs and may be able to surrender some of their loss for cash from HMRC, equating to 20% or 25% of the core cost. With many arts and media charities having to restrict activities because of COVID-19, Creative Industry Tax Relief (CITR) can be an effective way to gain access to cash or reduce Corporation Tax burdens. Some of the reliefs more relevant to charities are described below:

  • Theatre Tax Relief is available for productions of plays, operas, musicals, ballets or other dramatic pieces. Theatre tax relief is applied to each qualifying production, and relief is given according to qualifying expenditure which is largely the production and closing costs. More detail can be found in our guide here
  • Museums and Galleries Tax Relief can be claimed on costs incurred on temporary or touring exhibitions, and therefore does not include general day-to-day running costs. The relief is only open to charities, trading subsidiaries of charities, or subsidiary companies under the control of local authorities. Exhibitions must also be open to the public to qualify.
  • Orchestra Tax Relief is available to orchestras comprising at least 12 instrumentalists who perform to live audiences. Eligible organisations can claim a cash repayment from HMRC of up to 25% of the costs incurred in producing qualifying concerts.
  • Film Tax Relief is a tax incentive for film production companies operating in the UK: limited budget films can claim a cash repayment of 20% of costs related to principal photography and pre and post-production.

Other tax reliefs are available for:

  • High-end television production
  • Children’s television production
  • Animation
  • Video games

How does my charity access this?

Our specialist Creative Industry Tax Relief team are well versed in helping charities claim any qualifying tax reliefs. As a result of our work in this sector, we are able to present the necessary information to HMRC in a format that ensures the claim is processed quickly and efficiently and can assist in every aspect of the claim, from identifying qualifying productions, compiling the qualifying costs, calculating the relief and submitting the claim to HMRC. Please just get in touch for an initial conversation if you want to explore this opportunity further.

Other support available for charities

Some other areas of support available to charities which have recently been announced are as follows:

  • Barclays has announced a £100m COVID-19 community aid package for charities working to support vulnerable people impacted by the pandemic. Current details of the scheme can be found here.
  • The Arts Council are making £160m of emergency funding available for organisations and individuals in need during this crisis. £90m will be available to National Portfolio Organisations, £50m for cultural organisations not currently in receipt of Arts Council funding, and £20m will be made available for individuals working in the cultural sector, including artists, creative practitioners and freelancers. More information can be found here.
  • The CAF Coronavirus emergency fund has been set up to help smaller charitable organisations in the UK affected by the impact of Covid-19. Grants of up to £10,000 are available. Due to a large number of application the fund has currently been paused, however it is expected to reopen and you can find further information here.
  • The National Lottery Heritage Fund Heritage Emergency have released a £50m fund to support the heritage sector as an immediate response to the coronavirus outbreak with grants available between £3,000 – £50,000. More information on the fund can be accessed here.
  • The Leathersellers’ Company have announced a fast track application process for small one-off grants up to a maximum of £3,000, inviting applications from UK registered charities which are currently 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. More information can be found here.
  • The Charity Commission have issued a statement here stating that charities can contact them to request an extension to their annual return deadline. They have also reassured charities that their approach to regulation during this period will be as flexible and supportive as possible.

How we can help

Get in touch if you’re a charity and need further support…

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