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Support for charities during the coronavirus outbreak

Like all business having to adapt to the current norm, we understand that charities may be feeling real uncertainty. We have an established and dedicated charity team who can support you through these unsettling times. We will be sharing updates here as the official guidance develops to provide you with practical guidance.

We would recommend considering the below matters and if you require support and advice please contact one of our team below. We are here to provide you with peace of mind.

Financial position

Trustees should make it a priority to review all projects that carry some financial weight to assess whether they can be delayed or cancelled to strip back all spending to necessities only. Similarly, all ongoing tasks should be prioritised and communicated.

If you are concerned about the charity remaining solvent it is important to consider tapping into your reserves at this time. Before relying on money that you have received from fundraising methods, you should consider the restrictions on how the money is spent to not misuse funds. You may be able to amend restrictions however legal advice should be sought.

If you have existing contracts where you are concerned that you or your supplier may not be able to fulfil obligations please read our commercial team’s guidance here.

The government has announced that they are going to support businesses during this time by deferring VAT payments for 3 months from 20 March 2020.

Employees

If you think you will have a downturn in work which may have result in employees being laid off the government have announced a Job Retention Scheme. It details that they will pay 80% of salaries (up to a limit of £2,500 a month) for workers who are not working which should help you retain existing staff. You can read more about furlough leave and the Job Retention scheme here.

If you are concerned that you may experience a downturn during this time you should consider putting recruitment on hold and if necessary withdrawing or delaying employment offers that were conditional.

If an employee is self isolating because they are suffering from symptoms they will be entitled to receive sick pay in the usual way. A statutory sick pay relief package is available for businesses with less than 250 employees so you should maintain up to date records in order to claim for this.

If an employee does not want to come to work due to fears of being exposed to the virus is it important to make reasonable adjustments where possible. You can read our employment law team’s summary of the key points employers need to be aware of here.

Ongoing management

To ensure good governance of your charity is maintained trustees need to continue adhering to the duties set out by the Charity Commission. This includes reporting incidents to the Charity Commission where appropriate.

Postponing your annual general meeting (AGM) is reasonable given the current circumstances. We would recommend recording as much detail behind these decisions as possible, including how and when your annual reports can be finalised. However it is essential that the charity continues to be properly managed through the crisis, so critical meetings should go ahead if at all possible via remote facilities such as videoconferencing.

If you have a question for our team please let us know. We continue to share publications on various matters such as furlough leave, debt recovery, health and safety and practical considerations for individuals and for businesses on our coronavirus guidance page.

Useful resources:

Charity law advice our team provides:

Our Charity Law Team

Unsure who to contact? Make a general enquiry:

Newbury Thatcham Maidenhead
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