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Charities: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL10703, tabled on 25 November 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the Charity Finance Group’s proposal to allow charities to furlough staff and enable them to volunteer at their own organisation, to help charities to mobilise during the winter period.

Answered on

1 December 2020

The Government remains committed to supporting charitable organisations and enterprises across the country. In March, the Government announced the unprecedented Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), designed to help employers to keep millions of people in employment. The CJRS was set to close on 31 October 2020 but, in light of the path of the virus, the CJRS has now been extended until the end of March 2021.

A furloughed employee can volunteer for another employer or organisation subject to public health guidance and agreement from their employer. However, employees are not permitted to volunteer for their own employer or an organisation linked or associated to their employer where the volunteering either makes money for, or provides services to, their employer or such an organisation. This is to prevent fraudulent claims and to protect individuals. If the Government allowed workers to volunteer for their employer or a linked organisation, the employer could ask them to effectively work full-time whilst only paying them 80% of their wages.

As part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to supporting charitable organisations and social enterprises, the Spending Review confirmed a £750m support package for charities supporting vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis. The Government also matched public donations to the BBC’s “Big Night In” charity appeal, with over £37 million being distributed by Comic Relief, Children In Need and the National Emergencies Trust to charities on the frontline.