COVID-19 Update from The CEO of The Wheel
We know that this continues to be a worrying and uncertain time for everyone across the country and that our members and the wider sector are working every day to support individuals and communities during this crisis.
At The Wheel we are working tirelessly to ensure that our vibrant and unique community and voluntary sector can continue to play its very important role in helping people during this emergency, and that we can remain healthy and strong in order to play a leading role in supporting society as it recovers.
We have some important updates we would like to bring your particular attention to:
1. Statutory Funding:
With regard to organisations that are fully or partly statutorily funded,
- There have been some positive developments in this regard with letters and communications from many government departments and agencies regarding continuity of funding and flexibility of existing funding commitments to allow organisations to respond fully to the crisis in the interest of the communities they serve.
- The Department of Rural and Community Development published the Government Action Plan for the Community Response to COVID-19 on 20 March, which contains clear commitments on the part of the State to enabling the community and voluntary sector as a vital part of the national COVID-19 response effort and recovery afterwards.
- We are aware that many organisations face additional costs associated with responding to demand caused by the COVID-19 crisis. There is a need for additional special funds associated with providing PPE and covering the costs of staff to replace those who are sick or self-isolating. We are continuing to make the case for this additional provision.
2. Wage Subsidy Scheme:
- With regard to the Wage Subsidy scheme, this scheme is being understood as the key response by the state to underpinning the continued operation of all firms in the country – including community and voluntary organisations, charities, and social enterprises.
- We can confirm that community and voluntary organisations, charities and social enterprises are definitely eligible to apply for the scheme. From clarifications that we have received from Revenue last Friday27 March, we understand that charities that have reserve funds will not be expected to expend all of those funds to qualify for the scheme.
- We are now recommending that all charities consider carefully, and as soon as practicably possible, whether they should apply, and prepare speedy applications for the scheme, even if it is only a partial solution to the challenges you face.
- To assist you, The Revenue have now published a helpful FAQ.
3. A ‘Resilience Fund’ for Our Sector:
- We have made the initial case for additional resources to the Government. From our continued member engagement and our special survey of members last Thursday 26 March, it is clear that the sector is facing severe losses in both fundraised income and earned income. The Government is well aware of the extent of this income drop being experienced in the sector and we will continue to advocate for resourcing that will ensure that charities, community and voluntary organisations and social enterprises can best respond in supporting vulnerable people over the coming months, and be in a position to rebuild over the coming year.
We are aware of the immense effort and sense of solidarity that is on full display in so many charities, community and voluntary organisations, and social enterprises across Ireland. We continue to be inspired and heartened by this amazing response to this national crisis. We also give you our commitment that The Wheel will continue to champion the sector with determination and passion in the weeks and months ahead. You have never been more needed than you are now – and we thank you for the work that you do.
Please contact us if you have any specific issues you wish us to be aware of. You can email our Policy Officer, Lily Power, with your input: firstname.lastname@example.org.