The Budget for charities: the key announcements

Melanie May | 4 March 2021 | News

Armed Forces charities, Thalidomide support, domestic abuse services, and cultural institutions are among the charity sectors pledged support in yesterday’s Budget. 
In the Budget, the government pledged to provide up to £475,000 to Armed Forces charities in 2021-22 to support the development of a digital and data strategy for the sector. This will aim to improve how charities work together and with government. It will also help to ensure that members of the Armed Forces community across the UK can access support when they need it.
There will also be an additional £10 million in 2021-22 to the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, ‘to deliver charitable projects and initiatives across the UK that support veterans with mental health needs, ensuring that veterans can access the services and support that they deserve’.
The government also announced an additional £19 million towards tackling domestic abuse. This will include £15 million in 2021-22 across England and Wales ‘to increase funding for perpetrator programmes that work with offenders to reduce the risk of abuse continuing, and £4 million between 2021-22 and 2022-23 to trial a network of ‘Respite Rooms’ across England to provide specialist support for homeless women facing severe disadvantage’.
£300 million will be provided to extend the Culture Recovery Fund to support national and local cultural organisations in England as the sector recovers. £90 million will also be set aside to continue support for government-sponsored National Museums and cultural bodies in England.
A £150 million Community Ownership Fund was also announced that will allow communities across the UK to invest to protect the assets that matter most to them such as pubs, theatres, shops, or local sports clubs.
An additional £25million will go into community football facilities this coming year for example. Commenting on this, the Football Foundation’s CEO Robert Sullivan said:

“This is an announcement of huge significance that will help to transform the quality of sports facilities in the UK. As we recover from the Covid-19 health crisis we need community football now more than ever. Football has the power to transform lives and we must ensure people have access to great places to play.
“This new Government funding, alongside the investment of the Premier League and The FA, will help accelerate the delivery of the local football facilities plans that we have developed for every community in England and will ensure we build on the 17,600 grassroots football facility projects worth over £1.6billion we have delivered over the past 20 years.”

The government also pledged a lifetime commitment to continue the Thalidomide Health Grant in England when existing funding runs out in 2022-23, including an initial downpayment of around £39 million, to ensure ‘that no-one supported by it has to worry about the future costs of their care’.
 

CBILS & SITR

Also in the Budget, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak announced that the government would be extending the operation of Social Investment Tax Relief to April 2023. This enables investors to get 30% off the cost of their investment off their next income tax bill, and social enterprises, charities and community businesses have so far raised £15 million using the relief. The SAVE SITR campaign had asked for its ‘sunset clause’ to continue for a further five years
In the Budget, it was stated:
‘The government will continue to support social enterprises in the UK that are seeking growth investment by extending the operation of SITR to April 2023. This will continue availability of Income Tax relief and Capital Gains Tax hold-over relief for investors in qualifying social enterprises, helping them access patient capital. This measure will be legislated for in Finance Bill 2021, and a summary of responses to the consultation held in spring 2019 will be published on 23 March.’
Big Society Capital is one of the SAVE SITR campaign partners. Melanie Mills, its Senior Director, Social Sector Engagement, commented:

“We are delighted today to hear the Chancellor’s continued support for Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR) for another two years, demonstrating the Government’s commitment to the social sector and the role it can play in the levelling up agenda. Today’s promise will enable vital patient and affordable capital to continue to be unlocked for social enterprises, charities and community businesses, allowing them to build back better and fairer.
“Saving SITR is just the first step towards unlocking more private investors’ capital to support social enterprises and charities. Now, our action is to improve and extend it. We look forward to working with the Enterprise Investment Team within HM Treasury and Civil Society and Youth Directorate within DCMS to reform SITR, so that it can fulfil its potential.”

The government also announced that a new Recovery Loan Scheme would replace the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). 33 VCSE organisations including Big Society Capital, Social Investment Business, Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Charity Bank had all written to the government ahead of the Budget with a number of asks for the replacement scheme. 
The Budget stated:
‘From 6 April 2021 the Recovery Loan Scheme will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on eligible loans between £25,000 and £10 million to give them confidence in continuing to provide finance to UK businesses. The scheme will be open to all businesses, including those who have already received support under the existing COVID-19 guaranteed loan schemes.’
In response to this announcement, Stephen Muers, Interim CEO, Big Society Capital said:

“We welcome the introduction of the new ‘Recovery Loan Scheme’ programme, which replaces the existing coronavirus loan schemes that were launched in spring last year. The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises employ 2 million people and contribute £60 billion to the UK economy, so it is vital that this new scheme supports them in accessing the financial support they need to get through the pandemic.
“We look forward to seeing more detail on the policy and how it might support frontline organisations in creating impact for their communities amidst highly challenging circumstances.”

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