Over 30 organisations supporting people and charities across the UK have written to Jeremy Hunt ahead of next week’s Spring budget urging him to provide urgent support during the cost-of-living crisis.
The letter warns of the devastating impact on communities if charities are forced to scale back services or stop operating, saying that “The scaling back or closure of organisations will have a direct impact on the lives of people who already have the odds stacked against them.”
The organisations – which include sector bodies such as the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, SCVO and Charity Finance Group, and charities such as Age UK, UK Youth and Scouts – argue that the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector cannot respond to this crisis without support, saying:
“Charities report being unable to meet rising demand for help as more people struggle with the impact of high costs. Organisations are unable to pass on increased costs because people cannot afford to pay. Many cannot reduce their energy use because it would jeopardise the wellbeing and safety of the people they support.”
The signatories highlight that many charities are themselves at crisis point, facing a triple threat of rising demand, falling income and rising operational costs. Also highlighted is the fact that average energy prices available for charities are still 4.5 times higher than February 2021, while charities’ incomes have not seen a like-for-like increase.
To ensure charities can continue providing vital support to communities, the organisations are calling on the Chancellor to announce the following measures in next week’s budget:Targeted funding for charities to support with energy costs, such as grant funding and reform of proposed energy support schemes. Support for charities to safely reduce energy use, such as releasing social finance and grants for energy saving improvements. Uplifting government contracts so they cover the true cost of delivery, including raising contract payments in line with inflation and a longer-term funding settlement for local and devolved governments. Extension of the current Energy Price Guarantee for households and a commitment to work with charities to develop long term policy solutions, particularly for households most at risk of fuel poverty.
Sarah Vibert, CEO of NCVO, said:
“The cost-of-living crisis is impacting every corner of this country and has seen a rise in demand for help like never before. Volunteers and charities are on the frontline of this, offering lifelines to people who would be devastated without that support.
“The risk here is real. For every charity that shuts down, a whole community of people have the rug pulled out from under them. Even scaling back services can have a detrimental effect on people’s lives.
“We need the Chancellor to act on these warnings and provide urgent help for the voluntary sector in next week’s budget. Without it, many of the people hardest hit by the cost-of- living crisis face losing vital support.”