Matt Whittaker, CEO of Pro Bono Economics, said:

On emergency funding:
“The Chancellor has taken some extraordinary and welcome steps today to prop up jobs and the economy, but he has made a glaring omission in his lack of support for the charity sector. Toy shops, art galleries and cricket clubs will all receive additional emergency funding, but charities supporting the most vulnerable have not had a look in. That’s despite the pandemic prompting an estimated £10 billion funding gap for charities and the sector facing record levels of demand. The Chancellor has missed the opportunity to support those many thousands of organisations up and down the country doing essential work on mental health, improving the life chances of young people and delivering help to vulnerable groups disproportionately impacted by Covid.

“Money for domestic abuse and veteran’s mental health services is extremely welcome, but it is relatively small beer and leaves significant swathes of the social sector with little to cheer. Simple steps like including charities in the new Help to Grow programme or expanding the size and scope of its Community Assets scheme could have made a big difference. The Chancellor has pulled out all the stops for businesses, with unprecedented plans for boosting investment, remarkable plans for future innovation and significant backing for a greener recovery. Greater consideration of the enormous contribution the charity sector makes to the UK would help to ensure the recovery is fair as well as fast.”

On levelling up:
“It’s vital that the government’s levelling up strategy isn’t limited to freeports and windfarms, and that it gives due weight to the social infrastructure that is so crucial to improving our lives. Of the £65 billion announced today, just £370 million focused on community assets, £319 million focused on cultural assets, and £328 million focused on grassroots sports. If the government hyper-focuses on physical infrastructure at the expense of social infrastructure, it won’t achieve the levelled up UK it wants. It’s key that the new Levelling Up funds give the right consideration to both communities and dual carriageways when grants are being made.”

On Universal Credit:
“The Chancellor has rightly put jobs and growth at the heart of his plan for recovery, but many people in work still struggle to make ends meet over the coming months. Temporarily extending the Universal Credit uplift offers some support but, with the pandemic producing an estimated 35% increase in the number of households in problem debt, an extra £20 for six months will not be enough to support people out of poverty.”