Covid financial crisis leaves charities having to ration services
Charities will “inevitably” be forced to ration their services due to the financial crisis caused by the Covid pandemic, fundraising experts have warned. Breast Cancer Haven announced this week that it was suspending its services after the effects of the crisis reduced its income “significantly”. It is believed to be the first charity to fold due to the fundraising shortfall from Covid – but it is already having knock-on effects after another charity, Future Dreams, said it was now left to pick up Breast Cancer Haven’s services. The Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), which assists charities including by providing banking services, has warned that the shuttering of smaller charities will impact larger ones. Caroline Mallan, the CAF head of external affairs, said that when smaller charities reduce their services users will turn to bigger ones for help – but those have already had a “huge squeeze on their own finances”. Asked whether those bigger charities would also start to limit their services, she said: “I think it’s an inevitability that they too will have to start rationing their services. It will inevitably trickle down to the bigger charities as well.” Ms Mallan said there has been a “huge funding crunch” in the sector, with estimates that around £10 billion in fundraising was lost over the last year. “The money that’s lost is never coming back,” she said. Future Dreams, also a breast cancer charity, provided £1million in funding to Breast Cancer Haven to help support a new service centre due to open in London in May. It is understood Breast Cancer Haven will no longer enter into the lease, Nicky Richmond, the chief executive of Future Dreams said, leaving the organisation in a “horrendous position” as it “cannot stand by and see that money and the proposed services disappear”. It now faces the prospect of raising a further £500,000 to provide the services at the house. Research from the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NVCO) showed 43 per cent of charities had already reduced their services since March last year, with almost half (47 per cent) saying their income had dropped. Dan Corry, the chief executive of charity think tank NPC, said: “For some, including household names, the threat is existential. If they fail, or if services are hollowed out to a mere shell, then the most vulnerable in our society are the ones who suffer.” Mr Corry added that charity reserves “may not be enough” to see them through, adding: “Charities fulfilling contracts for local and national government have been better insulated, whereas charities who rely on public fundraising and charity shop trading have been far more exposed to significant losses.” Between April 2020 and February, the Charity Commission saw a 25 per cent increase in concerns being raised by auditors over reports and accounts. The main issue reported was insolvency or financial difficulties. Helen Stephenson, the commission’s CEO, said: “The pandemic has shown that charities make a vital contribution to public life and we know demand has increased for many charities during this time. Meanwhile, there have been reductions in income for many charities as fundraising opportunities have been curtailed and some charities have had to suspend activities due to lockdown.” Cancer has been the crisis in Covid’s shadow Covid may have dominated the headlines during the past year, but cancer never went away, writes Michelle Mitchell. It’s been a crisis in the shadows. Cancer was already one of the biggest health and economic challenges facing the UK, and we lagged behind other countries in cancer survival – more like League Two than the Premier League. The past year has only made the task more challenging. As we come out of the pandemic, this is our next big challenge. To change division, we need leadership, determination and resources. Sadly, one in two people born since 1960 will get cancer in their lifetime, meaning that if you and I were in a room together, the odds are one of us would be diagnosed with cancer. Those are not good odds. The positive and reassuring messaging was that cancer survival has doubled in the last 40 years. But this progress is in jeopardy. Today we face the possibility of cancer survival going backwards for the first time in decades – something no government wants on their watch. At the start of the pandemic, cancer treatments were delayed, screening paused, appointments rescheduled. The Government told people to “stay home” to protect the NHS, and many did exactly that. Worries about safety and fears of burdening their local GP has meant cancer referrals dropped. Around 4.6 million fewer diagnostic tests took place between the beginning of lockdown and February this year in England. And about 46,000 fewer patients started treatment for cancer in the UK compared to the previous year, likely to represent people who haven’t been diagnosed. The result? A backlog of tens of thousands of people increasingly worried waiting for a diagnosis, tests or treatment, and impatient for the Government to set out an urgent plan so that their families and friends can have a better chance of surviving.
Published: 2021-04-24 21:17:42
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