The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for charity and non-profit landlords and tenants within the UK. The restrictions implemented by the UK government’s lockdown have had a widespread impact on revenue streams, particularly those generated through public donations and fundraisers, resulting in many tenants seeking to agree some sort of financial relief from landlords. The following update offers guidance for both third sector tenants and landlords during these uncertain times.
Given the enormous challenge faced by companies and other entities, including charities and development organisations, in the wake of the public health measures adopted to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK government has taken certain measures to assist companies with their tax bills. The following update sets out the most relevant UK tax measures that have been implemented, in particular: (i) available tax relief options (such as business rates relief) and (ii) the deferral of Value Added Tax (VAT) payments. The update also includes information on the deferral of income tax payments and the use of Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC) ‘Time to Pay Service’.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most countries across the world have enforced some form of ‘lockdown’ and, as a result, the daily ‘normal’ has been significantly altered. Charities and social enterprise operations may have been temporarily ordered to close or to operate with reduced workforces. These organisations are also vulnerable to a number of other challenges, whether it be the cancellation of events or grant funding. As the pandemic endures, operations and supply chains around the world have been disrupted, with organisations experiencing delays and outright failures to perform.
On 8 April 2020, the UK government announced a £750 million package to support UK charitable organisations through the COVID-19 crisis. On 12 April 2020, the government made a further announcement, making an additional £200 million available for UK and international charities focusing on overcoming the pandemic. Government departments are currently working on identifying priority recipients of such funds, with the aim for organisations to receive the funds in the coming weeks. This update provides details on the various packages available to charities, social enterprises and development organisations during the COVID-19 crisis, although this will be under review and subject to further updates as more information is released.
As a consequence of COVID-19, many small and medium-sized social enterprises in the UK are facing significant financial uncertainty and, in some cases, a sudden liquidity shortfall. In recognition of the unique challenges that are facing enterprises, and to help navigate this difficult landscape, the government has introduced a programme of financial support with a view to providing short-term stability during this period of economic uncertainty.
A survey by the National Lottery Heritage Fund found that “around a third of charity/third sector organisations and around a third of community and voluntary groups said they could not exist beyond July.” The COVID-19 pandemic has sadly made this the new norm. For many organisations, insolvency is now of real concern and so understanding the changing insolvency landscape is key.
Corporate governance is one of the areas that has come under the spotlight as charities face unprecedented challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In this update we are looking at duties and potential liabilities of charity trustees under UK law; considerations around holding of meetings remotely; decisions to use reserves and restricted funds in the current crisis; and at developing risk management policies to deal with the current challenges.
Changes to charity and social enterprise operations during lockdown periods will likely impact on your ability to comply with data protection regulations. The UK’s Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has indicated it will adopt a pragmatic approach in undertaking its regulatory duties. The following update provides some tips on measures that can be put in place to manage your organisation’s legal risks.