General COVID-19 guidance for charities

This page covers general advice for charities and community groups for the COVID-19/Coronavirus pandemic from national bodies, the public sector and the government.

This page will be updated on a regular basis. Last updated: 5 June

Companies House

  • Accounts and Tax Returns

    You can apply to extend your accounts filing deadline with Companies House if you cannot send your accounts because of an event that’s outside of your control. Due to Covid-19, you can apply for an immediate 3 month extension if your company is affected by coronavirus.

    As a charitable company or a social enterprise such as a community interest company or a company limited by guarantee, you are legally required to complete a return to the regulator companies house. To qualify for this extension, you must apply before your filing deadline. You may not be eligible if you’ve already extended your filing deadline, or shortened your accounting period.

    To apply for an extension due to coronavirus you must apply online.
    Details of how to apply can be found here.

Charity Commission

NCVO

Government

  • The Coronavirus Act 2020

    Full version of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

    Read the full act

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance

    Find guidance about coronavirus (COVID-19) for health professionals and other organisations.

    Visit the gov.uk website

  • COVID-19: Changes to DBS ID checking guidelines

    Temporary changes to ID checking guidelines are being made as a result of the Coronavirus outbreak

    Visit the gov.uk website

  • Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

    The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is a UK government agency responsible for the encouragement, regulation and enforcement of workplace health, safety and welfare, and for research into occupational risks in Great Britain. With the latest advice for hands to be washed regularly, failure to allow access to welfare facilities may increase the risk of the COVID-19 infection spreading. Therefore, they are reminding organisations that drivers must have access to welfare facilities in the premises they visit as part of their work.

    Visit the HSE website

  • Public Health Eng;and: COVID-19 review of disparities in risks and outcomes

    On 2 June Public Health England published their research and analysis of disparities in the risk and outcomes of Covid-19.  

    The research showed that the largest disparity found was by age.
    Among people already diagnosed with COVID-19, people who were 80 or older were seventy times more likely to die than those under 40.

    Risk of dying among those diagnosed with COVID-19 was also higher in males than females; higher in those living in the more deprived areas than those living in the least deprived; and higher in those in Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups than in White ethnic groups.

    These inequalities largely replicate existing inequalities in mortality rates in previous years, except for BAME groups, as mortality was previously higher in White ethnic groups.

    These analyses take into account age, sex, deprivation, region and ethnicity.

    Details of the report can be found here.

  • HM Revenue and Customs: The Coronavirus Self Employment Income Support Scheme

    The Coronavirus Self Employment Income Support Scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant worth 80% of your trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 per month for the next 3 months.

    Visit the gov.uk website

    You will access this scheme only through GOV.UK. If someone texts, calls or emails claiming to be from HMRC, saying that you can claim financial help or are owed a tax refund, and asks you to click on a link or to give information such as your name, credit card or bank details, it is a scam.

  • Refunding tickets for cancelled charity events during coronavirus (COVID-19)

    On 16 April HM Revenue & Customs published their “refunding tickets for cancelled charity events during coronavirus (COVID-19)” guidance.

    The guidance confirms that charities can apply Gift Aid where money, due to be refunded for an event cancelled due to COVID-19, is donated. As long as a valid Gift Aid Declaration is held. This includes challenge events for which there will be registration fees (instead of tickets) that would be refundable, if the event is cancelled.

    Visit the gov.uk website

  • Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government

    Government support available for landlords and renters reflecting the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

    Visit the gov.uk website

  • Guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities COVID-19 and renting

    Guidance for landlords, tenants and local authorities

    Visit the gov.uk website

  • Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy

    On 12 May the cabinet office released the guidance Our plan to rebuild: The UK Government’s COVID-19 recovery strategy.
    From an employer perspective, the key message is for employees to work from home, if they can. If working from home is not possible and the workplace is reopening, then the employer must introduce safe distancing and other health and safety measures. We will be providing a blog about this in the coming week. Read more

  • Cabinet Office: Staying alert and safe (social distancing)

    On 31 May the government updated it staying alert and safe guidance to reflect the new changes that come in place from today Monday 1 June.
    We recommend that all VCSE organisations read it, to understand how it affects, staff, volunteers, trustees and your beneficiaries.

    From 1 June :

    • You can spend time outdoors, including private gardens and other outdoor spaces, in groups of up to six people from different households, following social distancing guidelines
    • You should go to work if you cannot work from home and your business has not been required to close by law
    • More shops are beginning to reopen, with a plan for more to do so later in the month
    • Children in early years (age 0-5), reception, year 1 and year 6 can return to childcare or school in line with the arrangements made by their school
    • You can be tested as part of the test and trace programme, which will enable the  country to return to normal life as soon as possible, by helping to control transmission risks

    From 15 June:

    • Secondary schools and further education colleges will also prepare to begin some face to face support with Year 10 and 12 pupils.

    VAL has written a blog about the government’s road map to recover. Whilst it was written prior to this guidance being updated, it might still be relevant to help you plan re-opening /continuing your service delivery. Such as Covid-19 secure processes. The revised guidance can be found here.

Other

  • Financial management during COVID-19

    Gurbinder Singh, Director of Leicester-based accountants BGS Accounting, provides guidance for local charities and community groups on how to manage their finances during COVID-19.

    Read more

  • Financial management after COVID-19

    Gurbinder Singh, Director of Leicester-based accountants BGS Accounting, provides guidance for local charities and community groups on how to manage their finances once the COVID-19 lockdown passes.

    Read more

  • NHS - Advice for everyone – Coronavirus (COVID-19)

    The NHS Advice for everyone on Coronavirus (COVID-19).

    Visit the NHS

  • Small Charities Coalition - Small charities bulletin (2 March 2020)

    This special briefing has been written to help small charities think through some of the issues that Coronavirus may mean for their organisation.

    Visit the NHS website

  • Charity Bank - COVID-19 Resource Hub for Charities and Social Enterprises

    COVID-19 has created extra challenges for the social sector. Many of your staff may now be working from home. You may have had to cancel events and change how you support your service users.

    Visit Charity Bank

  • Pets and Coronavirus - Comfort in Crisis

    Members of the CFSG have come together to provide clear guidance to owners on how to look after their pets during the current COVID-19 crisis. Pets are valuable family members who can provide comfort and companionship to people during this period of time when many will be self-isolating or unwell. We want to ensure advice around their care is clear and people know where to go for further up to date information on controlling the spread of COVID-19 whilst meeting their pet’s welfare needs.

    Visit the CFSG website

  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS): Impact of Covid-19 survey

    DCMS have released a survey to understand the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on organisations in the digital, culture, media, sport, gambling, telecoms and tourism sectors and their engagement with the available government interventions. The survey should take around 10-20 minutes and the deadline for responses is 15 May 2020.

    Visit the survey

  • Groop: Secure online video calling

    Groop are a social business committed to supporting community groups in a sustainable way to collaborate and communicate. They provide facilities to enable you to schedule multi-user meetings and deliver group sessions with your participants via GroopEvents. They are offering to support voluntary, charity or small businesses during COVID-19 with a free 7 day trial to Groop, including GroopLive and a 60% discount for the next three months – £7.99 per month

    Visi the Groop website

  • Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy : Upcoming Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill

    On 14 May the government introduced temporary measures to give companies and other bodies flexibility around Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and other meetings.

    This will be made retrospective to 26 March and the successful passage of the upcoming Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill. Companies required by law to hold Annual General Meetings (AGMs) will be extended greater flexibilities, including holding Annual General Meetings (AGMs) online or postponing the meetings.

    Details of this announcement can be found here, which we recommend social enterprises keep a track of. 

  • The Insolvency Service: Amendment to insolvency law – relevance to charities and social enterprises

    On 14 May, the government amend insolvency law to give companies breathing space and keep trading while they explore options for rescue.

    This was initially announced on 28 March, but has now been extended in light of the government’s update to lockdown rules earlier this week.  This will enable companies to continue buying much-needed supplies, such as energy, raw materials or broadband, while attempting a rescue.

    The temporary suspension of wrongful trading provisions,  retrospectively from 1 March 2020 for three months, will enable company directors to keep their businesses going without the threat of personal liability.  The press release on this can be found here.

    To understand how this is relevant to a charity,  Bates Wells  have produced a guide called “Charity Governance and Solvency: A Coronavirus Guide” view here
    Aspects of the guide might also be useful for social enterprises.

  • Charity Retail Association:  Reopening pack

    The charity retail association describe themselves as the primary membership organisation for charity shops in the United Kingdom.

    The re-opening pack consists of helpful guidance for when charity shops  are given the green light to open up shops, and provides some suggestions of things to think about in the meantime.

    The pack  should be read in conjunction with UK Government guidance for shops on working safely during coronavirus.
    The pack is regularly revised to take account of government changes and feedback from members. The latest version published is version 3. Read more

  • Leicestershire Police: Social distancing rules during coronavirus in England

    VAL hopes that you enjoy the bank holiday whilst staying alert and safe.  Whilst some of the lockdown rules have changed as the UK moves to the next phase in our fight against coronavirus, we wanted to remind you about what the new social distancing rules are, so that you can inform your staff, volunteers, and the communities you work with.

    Leicestershire Police has wrote a useful article about when we can legally have an excuse to go outside our homes. It explains that public gatherings of more than two people who don’t live together are banned. This includes all the leisure activities like exercise and picnics.
    We can exercise or relax outdoors with one other person from another household. However, we must keep 2m apart from anyone you meet from outside your household. Read more

    You may want to read this in conjunction with the Cabinet Office’s Staying alert and safe (social distancing) guidance which was published on 11 May.

  • Save Social Investment Tax Relief (SITR)

    SITR is a vital tax relief which supports the VCSE sector through private investment.  It has enabled many outstanding and crucial social enterprises to access the investment they need to grow on an unsecured and affordable basis. 

    SITR will be retired by April 2021 unless action is taken now to extend it. There is an opportunity to extend the tax relief through an amendment in the Finance Bill currently passing through Parliament. Resonance who are leading on this campaign to save the tax relief would appreciate if you can  write to your MP,  to ask them to support such an amendment. This  would extend Social Investment Tax Relief’s end date from April 2021 to April 2023.

    Resonance believe SITR could be a significant force for good as the UK emerges from this current crisis especially if it was allowed to include investing in community renewables, care homes and community facilities (as it was when first launched).

    For now they want to make sure the relief doesn’t disappear.  Therefore if the sunset clause amendment isn’t passed the result will be that very soon, millions of pounds of investment capital that can be raised for social enterprises supporting the most vulnerable in society will not be able to be used.

    For more details on the campaign see the link here.
    Here it explains how to write to your MP. 

  • Law works:

    Law Works is a charity connecting volunteer lawyers with people in need of legal advice. They have produced an article -payment of rent where access to premises is forbidden.

    The article covers :

    • What are our rights?
    • Can we withhold rent?
    • If we cannot occupy the premises, does the lease come to an end?
    • How to use  lease frustration and force majeure

    Read more

  • St John Ambulance: Working safely during COVID-19 - Free tool and advice

    St John Ambulance’s describe themselves  as a charity that steps forward in the moments that matter, to save lives and keep communities safe.

    They have produced a  free online tool to help organisations can work safely during this fast-moving situation: Click here to read more and view the online tool and advice

  • Befriending Network: Interim Volunteer Toolkit

    Befriending Networks is a national support organisation for befriending projects throughout the UK. 
    During the Covid-19 period they have produced a whole range of resources, templates and training videos for interim volunteers which are all available to download free on their website.

    This includes information about DBS, handling money, boundaries, safeguarding and confidentiality as well as template forms and policies for telephone and distance befriending. More information can be found here.

    The easy access Interim Volunteer Toolkit can be found here.

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