Background to report

On 8 April 2020, government announced a £750 million financial support package for frontline charities. It designed the package as part of its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It targeted its support at those organisations in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector providing vital services to the vulnerable. Government expected tens of thousands of charities to benefit, helping them meet increased demand for some services due to the pandemic. It did not intend to support or save every charity.

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The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (the Department) is responsible for allocating £513 million of the package, including funds distributed through itself and other government departments, public-sector organisations and other partners.

Scope of the report

This investigation explores the Department’s distribution and oversight of £513 million of the package. It considers how the Department allocated funds, how financial support could be accessed by the sector and where financial support was received. The package continues to operate up to 31 March 2021, and the investigation includes information up to 19 February. This represents the most up-to-date data available at the point our audit fieldwork concluded but does not represent the final position on how the entire package will be allocated, awarded and disbursed.

Excluded from the scope of this investigation are parts of the financial support package for which the Department is not responsible, including how the devolved governments have distributed funds, and how the Department of Health & Social Care has distributed funds to charitable hospices. As an initial factual report, this investigation does not consider how individual charities may have benefited, nor the impacts on charity service users. It also does not consider whether this package, or the Department’s administration of it, offers value for money to taxpayers.

Read more about our work on the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.


Publication details

Press release

View press release (23 Mar 2021)

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