Budget 2021 Highlights for Your Nonprofit
On 13 October, Government announced its Budget for 2021, the details of which have a range of implications for charities, community and voluntary organisations, social enterprises and all those whom they support, advocate with and deliver services to.
Minister McGrath opened his Budget day speech with an acknowledgement of the work of all front-line workers, essential workers and volunteers who have acted as the backbone of the country throughout the COVID–19 crisis noting:
“COVID-19 has also brought out the best in us. I think of course of the staff across our health service, of our Gardaí, of all those providing the frontline services we need when things go wrong.... our care assistants... and so many other essential workers, and I think of the thousands of volunteers in communities across the country who have reached out to help others.”
We know, of course, that many of these essential workers are employed or volunteering within the charity, community and voluntary, and social enterprise sector across many areas including, health and disability, social care, education, housing, support for the elderly, domestic violence, poverty relief, the arts and sport, as well as contributing to international aid.
Budget 2021 contains many welcome announcements and represents a very significant investment in public services, some of which will flow through to community and voluntary organisations, to protect against the impact of COVID-19, as the unprecedented circumstances warranted. Many special supports for employers, enterprises and charities have been announced too.
Our community and voluntary sector is the social fabric that knits our communities together. Ireland’s social fabric is fraying from the impact of COVID-19, but it is not too late to stop it from unravelling. It is very welcome to see Budget allocations that specifically support the work of the community and voluntary sector, including the areas of voluntary disability services, voluntary hospices, rural and community supports, homeless support services, health providers, and our mental health services.
While Budget 2021 is, of course, not perfect (the lack of increased childcare supports and lack of increases of core benefits are disappointing) and much remains to be done, it does represent a very significant investment in sustaining our society and economy in the period ahead. Many of the announcements relate to the work of members of The Wheel and to charities, community and voluntary organisations, and social enterprises in general.
Budget 2021 amounts to a total package of almost €18 billion- key elements of which include €8 ½ billion for public services to address the challenges of COVID-19, including €2.1 billion in contingency funding; €3.8 billion on supporting existing services across a range of departments, in particular the Department of Health; and €3.4 billion for a Recovery Fund to stimulate demand and employment.
We will be working to ensure that the Budget increases flow through to support essential services provided by community and voluntary organisations.
The Wheel’s Recovery Through Community Pre-Budget submission laid out a series of recommendations about how Government could better support the community and voluntary sector and all those who rely on the sector, particularly in this uncertain time.
Our key asks included: long-term sustainable funding for the sector, to include specific additional COVID-19 support - building on the Stability Fund for Charities - to deal with the projected €445m collapse of fundraised/earned income which will not be made good by the Wage Subsidy Scheme or its successors; streamlining of regulatory and funding-related compliance requirements and provision for the costs of compliance; bringing down of the cost of insurance; comprehensively resourcing of the new strategies for the charity, community and voluntary, and social enterprise sector; implementation of the recommendations of the IRG Report; development of a framework for collaborative working and provision of resources and supports for mergers; increase in budget allocations for the Department of Rural and Community Development.
We welcome several of the measures introduced in Budget 2021 which positively address some of these recommendations, including:
- Additional €10m for the COVID-19 Stability Fund for Charities, building on the €35million secured earlier this year
- The extension of the vital Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme (of great significance to charities)
- Allocation of €341 million to the Department of Rural and Community Development in 2021 which represents a 7 per cent increase to include particular investment in Leader, CLÁR, and Community Services Programme.
- €20m additional funding for voluntary disability services to provide support to the Transforming Lives programme this yea
- €100m for new disability measures including supports for the resumption of day services in 2021
- €10m for voluntary hospices
- €38m to implement new measures under the Sharing the Vision National Mental Health Strategy
- €22m for homeless services
- An increase in supports for volunteering from €3.5m to €5.1m
- €5 million for Youth Services and organisations
- €867 million for overseas development assistance (ODA).
We will be working to ensure that the €10m addition to the Stability Fund for Charities (building on the €35 million secured earlier this year) is disbursed in a timely fashion to the many originations that still require emergency support. We will be continuing to monitor the emergency funding situation facing charities that earn and fundraise large proportions of their income to ensure that any additional funding supports are provided by Government.
The continuation and extension of the Employment Wage Subsidy Scheme to end 2021 is most welcome - up to 30% of our members are utilizing the scheme as per our last survey. We will be working to clarify and make sure that the various enterprise and business supports announced (including the Regional Enterprise Development Fund and the Sustaining Enterprise Fund to assist SMEs and companies with the negative impact of COVID-19) are available to social enterprises and community and voluntary originations in general.
We invite you to click here for an extensive summary of the allocations within Budget 2021 which are of particular relevance to our members, and the sector broadly.