The Wheel: Updates – October 2020

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COVID-19 Stability Fund

As you may be aware, a fourth tranche of funding allocations through the COVID-19 Stability Fund (which we worked hard with a coalition of sector bodies to secure from Government in May this year) was announced on Monday bringing the total amount of funding disbursed to circa 580 organisations to around €30m.

The scheme has been a vital lifeline to the charity sector (with some organisations being awarded over €200k – indicating the extent of the income loss faced by many charities). Undoubtedly, without this funding, many organisations would have already closed their doors. While the scheme was only ever designed to provide funding for non-pay-related expenditure (the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme being deemed adequate for pay-related expenditure), the COVID-19 Stability Fund has played a crucial role in mitigating the short-term income collapse experienced by many members as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

In fact, our members survey (see below) indicates that the support of government schemes such as the COVID-19 Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme has prevented many services from closing their doors (with 38% of eligible organisations being in receipt of support from the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme at the time of the survey).


Members Survey: Impact of COVID-19  

Between 28 July and 24 August 2020, The Wheel conducted a survey of its members to identify the current and anticipated impact of the COVID-19 crisis on charities and the community and voluntary sector in key areas such as income, fundraising, staffing and services. You can explore our full members survey report here, which illustrates how precarious the situation remains for many members, with a significant number facing serious uncertainty about continued service provision next year, while still dealing with the effects of the collapse in earned and fundraised income this year.

Half (50%) of survey respondents reported that demand for their services has increased since the COVID-19 crisis, while 82% are very concerned about whether they will have sufficient funds to provide services in 2021. Respondents have experienced a 64% reduction in volunteers, 40% have cut staff hours, and 65% of respondents report that their ability to deliver services has been compromised.

Additionally, around half (48%) of respondents anticipate an income/funding loss of up to 75% in 2020 while 12% anticipate an income/funding loss of up to 100% this year. So, the funding situation remains critical and the continuation of the Employee Wage Subsidy Scheme well into next year, and a successor to the Stability Fund for Charities will be required.


Budget 2021 Campaign: Recovery Through Community 

Which brings us to our Budget 2021 Campaign: Recovery Through Community… We will be reverting to the Department for Rural and Community Development (who led in developing and delivering the Stability Fund for Charities) very soon with detailed proposals as to what is needed to support the incomes of charities in the post-budget period ahead.

In our Budget campaign, we are calling on Government to provide the following in Budget 2021:

  • €445m additional funding for the community and voluntary sector to compensate for the projected total COVID-19-related earned/fundraised income shortfall (un-recoupable through any other scheme or source)
  • Introduction of multi-annual (three to five year) funding arrangements.

Without additional funding support, the pressures on charities will undoubtedly mean the closure of some essential services that provide supports to the most vulnerable in our communities. If we have learned anything from the COVID-19 crisis, it is that Ireland has the capacity to put community and the health and well-being of its people first when we make that our priority – and this is what we are calling on Government to do in Budget 2021.

We strongly encourage you to visit our Budget 2021 campaign page here, to learn what you are do to actively encourage Government to respond positively to our calls (there are many more recommendations in our pre- budget submission).


Community Services Programme (CSP)  

The Community Services programme (CSP) is a key support for over 500 community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises. A Review of The Community Services Programme by Indecon Economic Consultants has just been published alongside a High Level Action Plan from the Department of Rural and Community Development.

The Wheel sat on the advisory group that worked to shape the report produced by Indecon and if you are funded by the CSP scheme, or consider that the programme might be something that could support your work in the period ahead, I strongly encourage you to read the reports and learn more about the changes recommended. We have accepted an invitation to participate in a Consultative Forum that DRCD is establishing to inform the implementation of the recommendations in the report which will see the scheme re-shaped over the next 18 months.

Please do let me know if you have any observations on the report – and also note that we will be holding a meeting of our CSP Member Network on 26 November at 2.15PM. Please register here if you would like to attend.

Finally, the DRCD’s National Social Enterprise Policy for Ireland 2019- 2022 Implementation Group is moving forward on developing an awareness raising strategy for social enterprise. If you have any observations about what’s needed to increase awareness of social enterprise in Ireland please do let me know – and consider joining our Social Enterprise member network where you can learn more about supports available through The Wheel for social enterprises at this crucial time when earning income has never been more important – and indeed challenging.

Please do let me know if there are any other issues that you would like to receive information or supports on by simply replying to this email.

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