The £750 million package to support Britain’s charities and voluntary organisations facing financial ruin because of the coronavirus emergency is welcome, but much more needs to be done, Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said today (Wednesday 8 April).

Unite said that the sector needed a £4 billion comprehensive set of measures to see charities through the coronavirus emergency – much more than the £750 million unveiled by the chancellor Rishi Sunak this afternoon.

Earlier this week, the Sue Ryder charity warned it was on the brink of closure and the country will lose its hospices as it faces a £12 million funding gap in the next three months – and Unite said yesterday (Tuesday 7 April) that this could be the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as charities faced an unprecedented threat to their existence.

Unite national officer for the community, youth and not for profit sector Siobhan Endean said:  “The chancellor Rishi Sunak’s package of £750 million is a welcome first step and a recognition that the sector is reeling financially.

“But, in our view, much more needs to be done and a figure closer to £4 billion is what is needed to see the sector through the short-term crisis and to stave off charities closing and also, in the longer term, to nurse charities back to financial health.

“Charities are already announcing they are going insolvent and most charities have reserves that will tide them over for less than three months.

“We will be strongly lobbying government in the weeks ahead with cogent arguments and examples to make the case for the extension of the financial measures that we believe necessary to support charities and the many vulnerable people they help on a daily basis

“Many of those charities at risk are a lifeline for people and families in need particularly at this time of national crisis and they will certainly need them when we emerge from this frightening period.”

Unite, which represents tens of thousands of not for profit workers, has joined forces with the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) in calling for emergency funding for the sector. The NCVO has estimated that the sector could lose £4.3bn in income over the next three months.


Notes to editors:

Unite and the NCVO are making these key demands:

  • Emergency Mobilisation funding for frontline charities and volunteers supporting the response to the coronavirus crisis in the UK and globally through grants with a swift application process.
  • A ‘stabilisation fund’ for all charities to help them stay afloat, pay staff and continue operating during the course of the pandemic which would be  administered through the National Lottery.
  • Confirmation that charities should be eligible for similar business interruption measures announced by the chancellor for businesses and access to government rescue schemes.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065


Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.