COVID-19: our support & commitment

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Firstly, our thoughts go out to anyone who may be affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

As the situation continues to develop, we’d like to assure you that we have been closely monitoring updates and are taking strict precautions in the interests of our staff, partners and the wider society whilst also continuing to provide the best possible service for you.

Our top priority is the wellbeing and health of our customers and team, and we are taking serious steps to prevent any spread of the virus as best as we can. As such, to safeguard the health of our employees and in line with the Government’s counter-COVID-19 measures, most of the Charity Bank Team will be working remotely.

We are aware that this will be a very challenging time for many charities and social enterprises. We therefore want to reassure the organisations we invest in that we will support you and be as helpful as possible in the coming months. If you have an existing loan and need additional flexibility, please get in touch; we will do our best to help.

We’ve taken steps to ensure that all departments, including our Banking and Savings Teams, can continue to work as usual, albeit remotely. As remote working may affect our ability to effectively handle large call volumes, we politely ask our savings customers who wish to contact us to do so by email to enquiries@charitybank.org. Our borrowing customers are encouraged to get in touch with their Charity Bank contacts in the usual way.

Wishing you and your family a safe few weeks, as we navigate this period of unprecedented uncertainty.

Ed Siegel, CEO, Charity Bank

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This page was last updated on 27 April 2020.

Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund

Update: 27 April 2020

As of 27 April, applications are open for the Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund (RRLF). RRLF is a new emergency loan fund which will provide repayable finance to charities and social enterprises who are experiencing disruption as a result of COVID-19 and is intended for such organisations who have an otherwise viable business model. It has been established to make the Government’s existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) more easily accessible to these entities.

Visit our Resilience and Recovery Loan Fund page for an overview of the Fund, including eligibility criteria, and the role of Charity Bank in delivering this Fund.

Emergency Liquidity Facility for Social Enterprises and Charities

Update: 24 March 2020

We know that many charities and social enterprises will need grants to help them at this difficult time, but we also believe there is an urgent opportunity to help many through this by providing loans through an emergency liquidity facility. This would allow trading charities and social enterprises to borrow money they need for working capital or to help with cash flow.

Big Society Capital is urgently trying to set this up and alongside Charity Bank and nineteen other Social Investment organisations and groups have written to the Government to ask for their help to ensure charities and social enterprises survive the Coronavirus crisis. Read the letter in full below.

Dear Secretary of State,

Emergency Liquidity Facility for Social Enterprises and Charities

Big Society Capital, The Social Investment Forum and a group including 20 leading social lenders are writing to you to make an urgent request for financial support to help ensure trading charities and social enterprises can survive the Coronavirus crisis. We have also written to The Times newspaper today with an open letter from funding organisations which are working to support the social sector.

A copy of this letter to The Times is below.

We strongly welcome the Government’s measures to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak, including a liquidity support scheme backed by £330 billion of guarantees. However, many charities and social enterprises are also facing extreme challenges to their future existence and may not be able to access this support in practice. This is because there are very few social lenders accredited within the scheme who will be able to give these organisations access to funding and additionally because many of these organisations with less than half of their income through trading will not be eligible. We believe that social enterprises and charities which serve a public benefit should receive the same government support as private companies and that there should be a level playing field.

Therefore, as social lenders, we are working together with great urgency to create an Emergency Liquidity Facility which would serve this vital sector and be able to lend quickly to organisations supporting social needs facing immediate cashflow problems or in need of working capital.

The Facility would need significant financial backing to enable this in the same way as the Government-backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) is guaranteeing the loans which will be offered to businesses through the British Business Bank. The easiest way to achieve the same support for the social sector would be for Big Society Capital to work with a group of social lenders who can channel funds direct to social enterprises and charities. The estimated need for an emergency liquidity facility is many multiples of the current lending capacity in the social investment sector - we are therefore in discussion with government and hoping to secure its financial backing in the same way this has been offered to mainstream business.

Unless this support is forthcoming, we believe the risks to society are significant. Social enterprises and charities play a vital role in the fabric of society supporting many of the most vulnerable people and addressing issues from homelessness to mental health with examples in nearly every sector from The Big Issue to Catch 22. In addition to their social impact, these social businesses and trading charities contribute more than £60 billion to the economy and employ two million people. Cash flow is already a serious issue with a devastating slowdown in trading conditions. Many of these organisations themselves employ or serve vulnerable or high-risk groups and many will have low or no financial reserves, making them particularly vulnerable to the current sudden economic freeze.

There is a real risk that many organisations that could be financially sustainable will simply fold or cease trading and never be able to recover without the ability to borrow money that is being offered by the government to private business.

Therefore, we urge the Government to take two immediate practical steps.

  • First it should make changes to ensure the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme is available to all charities and social enterprises that could make use of this finance to survive this crisis
  • Second the Government should commit, either via CBILS or outside it, to provide significant financial backing to a dedicated Emergency Liquidity Facility to be delivered through the existing social finance infrastructure

We believe that when we as a country get through this extraordinary period, we will need a vibrant social business sector to help us rebuild the fabric of society. We hope the Government will work with us to secure the future for this sector and help prevent the widespread closure of these organisations in the coming weeks.

Yours sincerely,

Cliff Prior,

Chief Executive, Big Society Capital & Co- signatories

Co-Signatories include;

The Social Investment Forum and the following organisations;
Nick Temple, CEO, Social Investment Business
Sarah Gordon, CEO Impact Investing Institute
Seb Elsworth, CEO, Access: The Foundation for Social Investment
Holly Piper, CAF Venturesome
Richard Hunt, CAF Bank Ltd
Caroline Mason, CEO, Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
Lisa Ashford, CEO, Ethex
Bevis Watts, CEO, Triodos Bank
Benjamin Rick, Managing Director, Social and Sustainable Capital
Theodora Hadjimichael, CEO, Responsible Finance
Matthew Mckeague, Architectural Heritage Fund
Ed Siegel, CEO, Charity Bank
Daniel Brewer, CEO, Resonance
Danyal Sattar, CEO, Big Issue Invest
Mark Norbury, CEO, UnLtd
Ian Richards, Director, NorthStar Ventures
Nathan Elstub, Executive Director of Investments, Nesta
Matt Smith, CEO, Key Fund
Alastair Davis, CEO, Social Investment Scotland

Social Investors Respond to COVID-19: our support & commitment

Update: 16 March 2020

We have co-signed a statement with other Social Investors which makes clear our commitment to support our customers and be as helpful and flexible as we can be in the coming months. Read the statement in full below.

Social Investors Respond to COVID-19:

We are all aware the coronavirus outbreak means this is a very challenging time for all. We know this will include the charities and social enterprises we work with, many of whom work with the most vulnerable people. Our priority above all is to work collectively and with urgency to help where we can.

We want to reassure all of the organisations we invest in that we will support you and be as flexible as possible in the coming months. We are actively working together on how we can adapt existing schemes and funds. We are also working with government and other funders to establish new programmes that may provide additional help. We recognise that grants and business support will be at least as important as social investment.

The most important message is to get in touch with your social investor if that hasn't happened already:

  • if you have investment from one of us and think you may need support or flexibility, please get in touch; we will do our best to help
  • if you might need investment to help you through difficult trading, please speak to us

We have created a dedicated page on Good Finance which will be updated regularly with any new information (including on any emergency funding sources) as well as via our social media channels.

Signatories

Access
Architectural Heritage Fund
Arts & Culture Finance by NESTA
Big Issue Invest
Big Society Capital
CAF Venturesome
Charity Bank
Esmee Fairbairn Foundation
Ethex
Key Fund
NatWest Social & Community Capital
Northstar Ventures
Resonance
Social and Sustainable Capital
Social Investment Business
Social Investment Scotland
UnLtd