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22nd April 2020Guidance for charities: your key questions answered

In the current circumstances we know a lot of charities are having to change the way they operate to ensure fundraising and funding can continue through the impact of Covid-19.

Our charity department answer some key questions for anyone associated with a charity, looking for clarification on what the best action is for these organisations during this period of uncertainty.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch directly should you need any support or guidance during this time.

We run a programme in schools which can’t operate, but we have most of our financial year income in already. Do we have an obligation to return money to our donors?

This would usually classify as restricted income.  We would encourage charities in this situation to communicate directly with the funder, as soon as possible.

It is important to discuss the exact position of the programme with them to be able to assess whether it can ever be undertaken in the future or whether it could be delivered in an alternative format.   Following this, the funder would then be in a position to decide whether they are happy for these funds to be deferred, opened up to be utilised on other areas or potentially returned to them.

Is there an upper limit on the rateable value for properties in claiming the 10% relief? Our shops are large and in central London so have high rates payable.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure facilities are entitled to rate free period.  In addition, grants available are as follows:

  • Rateable values up to 15,000 – entitled to a £10,000 grant
  • Rateable values from 15,000 to £51,000 – entitled to a £25,000 grant

 In addition, if the organisation is currently entitled to Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR), and are receiving £3,000, then they will automatically receive £10,000. There is significant lobbying being undertaken to increase the £51,000 top rateable value.

If we are closing offices and sites, do you know if it is going to be possible to pause other business rates such as gas/electricity, water, and rubbish collections?

We do not believe there is anything stipulated in relation to pausing utilities, however, we believe some clients are discussing this further and are having some success.

I need to furlough my team but they want to keep doing volunteer work for us on non-profit making activities (like online events from home for our friends around the world)…. how should we go about doing this?

According to government guidance, any volunteer work undertaken by employees must not ‘provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation’.

As such, any volunteering would have to take place with a separate organisation. The charity can agree to assist furloughed employees by helping them find volunteering opportunities, but this must be in line with the public health guidelines.

Can furloughed employees work on non-revenue generating work such as training, administration (filing VAT returns, payroll) etc.

Furloughed workers are able to undertake training, but the government guidelines do not permit the employee to perform any revenue generating work or supply services to the business.

The examples of filing VAT returns and running payroll come under the umbrella of providing services and therefore any provision of these services would mean that the employer is not permitted to receive the grant for this employee. In respect of training, it is important to note that the employee would need to be paid the National Minimum Wage as they are still active. This may require the employer to ‘top up’ their pay.

 

Key contacts

Jonathan Lachmann HW Fisher

Jonathan Lachmann
Principal - Charities

020 7380 4993
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Neal Gilmore HW Fisher

Neal Gilmore
Principal - Charities

020 7874 7975
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