News
Posted on the 11th May 2020
Written by Patrice

Cross-party support for #FurloughForGood

Baroness Tyler and 14 cross-party members of the House of Lords have supported the #furloughforgood campaign by writing directly to the Chancellor of the Exchequer seeking urgent clarification of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to allow charity employees to volunteer for their organisation. The letter was accompanied by a briefing paper for Government prepared by FIRST UK outlining the mechanics to implement the change whilst ensuring employee protection and safeguarding against abuse. Read the full letter here, and see the full press release below.

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Volunteering for furloughed charity employees supported by Peers from House of Lords

  • Members of the House of Lords have written to the Chancellor seeking urgent adjustment to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to enable furloughed charity employees to volunteer for their organisation – something which is currently prohibited
  • A letter from Baroness Tyler of Enfield has been signed by Peers echoing a similar recommendation by DCMS Select Committee last week
  • The letter, along with a briefing paper prepared by tech education charity FIRST UK – lays out the mechanics by which the adjustment could be implemented
  • The campaign #furloughforgood organised by FIRST UK has been lobbying for the change since 28th March with an open letter signed by over 100 charities

 

London, UK: 

A group of 14 cross-party Members of the House of Lords, who each spoke in a debate on the Charity and Voluntary sector, have written a letter to the Chancellor asking for an urgent clarification to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) to allow furloughed employees of registered charities to immediately volunteer for their organisations to continue vital work supporting the public and their beneficiaries

 

The letter from Baroness Tyler of Enfield is accompanied by a briefing paper drafted by tech education charity FIRST UK laying out the mechanics by which the adjustment could be made. The issue was first raised in an open letter to the Chancellor organised by Ed Cervantes-Watson, CEO of FIRST UK on 28th March and signed by over 100 charity leaders. 

 

Ed Cervantes-Watson, CEO of FIRST UK, commented: “At a time when demands for charity services are at their highest, income at its lowest, many charities are in a fight for survival. Charities are not for profits serving beneficiaries, not shareholders – we need to do everything we can to keep them productive, resilient and working for good. Making an exception to allow furloughed employees of registered charities to volunteer for their organisation is not ‘gaming the system’, it is protecting the very social fabric of our county.

 

The 14 cross-party Members suggest how the Government might maintain adequate employee protections and safeguard against abuse of the scheme through ensuring 

  • The employee qualifies for furlough in accordance with CJRS
  • The employee is in no way compelled to volunteer
  •  The employer tops-up salaries from 80% to 100%
  • The role is deemed critical to ongoing service delivery or maintenance of core provision

Baroness Tyler of Enfield, added: “We are calling on the Chancellor to immediately relax the rules for furloughing of charity staff so they can volunteer back into their own organisations and do vital work of direct benefit to their beneficiaries. Without this allowance charity effectiveness, productivity and support for the public will continue to be severely eroded across all sectors. With limited reserves some charities may cease operating entirely within a matter of weeks. Longer-term, an irreparable void will be created – leaving unquantifiable financial and societal burden to be picked up by the taxpayer for many years to come. Charities are incredibly important, and now more than ever we need to support them.”

 

The members of the House of Lords calling for the change include Lord Addington, Baroness Barker, Baroness Benjamin, Baroness Finlay of Llandaff, Lord German, Baroness Healy of Primrose Hill, Baroness Massey of Darwen, Lord Mendelsohn, Baroness Pitkeathley, Lord Rennard, Bishop of St Albans, Baroness Sheehan, Baroness Watkins of Tavistock. 

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