Children England's statement on the government support announced for charities

Yesterday the Chancellor voiced the government's acknowledgement that the voluntary sector is an essential part of our social fabric - providing the connections between people and services that no other sector can provide, and that often go unseen in public life. 
We're glad that the package of support announced recognises the value of local voluntary action, in its £370m for smaller charities, and we hope that in being distributed through grant-making bodies it will also recognise the diversity of that action rather than being restricted to siloes of service that exclude other essential parts of our communities' social fabric. 
We welcome the £360m offered to government departments that aims to help people at their most vulnerable - experiencing poverty, older age or indeed children. 
But this is only an important beginning in solving the immediate crisis for charities and their vital work - it cannot be the end of the story. Children England and many other advocates for the voluntary sector have been campaigning passionately for a support package of £4 billion, which is the amount of income charities collectively stand to lose in the next three months. The support announced yesterday falls far short, both in quantity and in the speed and accessibility of plans for distribution. However helpful these funds may be for saving some brilliant charities, it leaves us with the chilling certainty that many others will have to close, and their vital work and services will be lost, even before this national emergency is over.
As every household knows only too acutely, this is a critical time where meaningful help must be offered swiftly, generously and unconditionally - whether that help is finding refuge from an abusive partner, affording food to put on the table or seeking an emergency grant from the government. This is not the time for competitive funding applications or ranking one part or member of the voluntary sector more essential than another. We are seeing and hearing inspiring but also heartbreaking stories of how children and families rely on a whole diversity of voluntary sector support, both to cope with the pandemic and the impacts of lockdown, and to manage needs and circumstances that are nothing to do with it, and for which they will need that support long beyond this emergency. That support and the creative, adaptable approaches our sector is deploying to keep offering it are changing weekly if not daily in nature, from baby banks offering food supplies to youth groups developing online wellbeing support. Communities need all of those responsive, diligent services in order to survive the crisis, and will need their passion and ingenuity just as much when we are rejuvenating our social fabric at the end of it. 
The detail of the government's support is not yet clear, but appears to offer the sort of bureaucratic, conditional pots of funding that have been undermining the sustainability of both the public and voluntary sectors for several years. Rather than valuing the true diversity of our 'social fabric', we are extremely anxious that this package is not designed to reach the youth clubs, the family drop-in centres, the volunteer-run play schemes that are literally a lifeline for people across the country.
We are also disappointed by the absence of any real sense of how vital local authorities are to every community and family, and how pivotal their role is is supporting, grant-making and partnering with their local charities and community organisations. We know of many local authorities who are leading the way with swift, flexible unconditional grant-making and partnerships with the local voluntary sector, but we believe national government should invest in and support that becoming the 'new normal', everywhere. 
Like the whole of the country, we will keep our focus on doing whatever it takes for the nation's children, families and communities, and for Children England that means we will keep raising the alarm about any threats to our vital social infrastructure​ and the children and families they are so dedicated to serving.
Contact for more information:
Chloe Darlington, Policy and Communications Manager 07980 262611
Kathy Evans, Chief Executive, 07734 072141