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Many charities are facing increased levels of demand for their services because of the Covid-19 outbreak in the UK. At the same time, the sector could lose a considerable proportion of its revenue following the closure of charity shops and other venues and the cancellation of fundraising events. The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has estimated charities overall may lose around £4 billion over a 12-week period as a result of the pandemic. It has warned this would result in charities becoming unable to provide essential services at a time of increased need.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, announced a £750 million package of support for charities. This support is targeted at charities providing services for people affected by Covid-19, such as hospices and the St John Ambulance. Part of this funding is also intended for small and medium-sized charities. Both the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and the Labour Party have welcomed this increased funding. However, both have argued more government support would be needed to enable the sector to continue to operate.

Government departments have also announced additional funding for charities supporting the victims of domestic violence, for mental health charities and for charities working to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in the developing world. The National Lottery Community Fund has also announced all its funding decisions for the coming six months would be devoted to addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.

There has been an increase in the number of people wanting to volunteer during the pandemic. The Government has worked with the voluntary sector to increase support for the NHS in England. Over 750,000 individuals have volunteered to act as NHS volunteer responders, carrying out tasks to support people with underlying health conditions isolating themselves at home.

On 30 April 2020, the House of Lords is due to debate a motion moved by Lord Addington (Liberal Democrat) that “the Virtual Proceedings do consider the fundraising and organisational challenges faced by the charitable and voluntary sector during the Covid-19 pandemic”.

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