Coronavirus: Rishi Sunak announces £750m fund for charities

Pledge comes after Commons committee warns time is running out for some charities amid pandemic

Kate Devlin,Rob Merrick
Wednesday 08 April 2020 18:09 BST
Coronavirus: Rishi Sunak announces £750m fund for charities

A £750m rescue package has been unveiled for charities after stark warnings that coronavirus was about to send many to the wall.

“This will ensure our key charities can continue to deliver the services that millions of people up and down the country rely on,” the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, pledged.

Around half of the money will support small local charities, described as “unsung heroes” by Mr Sunak.

Up to £200m will be allocated to hospices, he added.

Mr Sunak also announced that the government would match pound for pound whatever the public donates to the National Emergencies Trust as part of the BBC’s Big Night In fundraiser later this month.

The Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee warned this week that time was running out for some charities, suggesting they will lose up to a staggering £4bn as donations disappear.

At the end of March, Michael Gove, the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, had pledged rapid support for charities to compensate for donations drying up because of the pandemic.

But no announcement followed.

Among those warning that services and research would have to be dramatically scaled back were some of the UK’s largest and best-known cancer charities – Cancer Research UK and Marie Curie.

John Herriman, chief executive of the National Emergencies Trust, said the money would give thousands and thousands of people real and much needed help. “We have seen many, many stories of people who have already received wonderful support, from food deliveries to helping those in isolation. This additional funding means we can do so much more, and we will work in partnership with the sector to ensure support continues to get to where it’s needed most.”

The BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal will be broadcast on 23 April.

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