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Sunak throws ‘unprecedented’ £750m lifeline to charities struggling amid Covid-19

CHARITIES struggling to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic have been thrown a £750 million lifeline by Chancellor Rishi Sunak today.

Cash grants will be available to charitable organisations, including those supporting domestic abuse victims, and hospices, he announced during the daily Downing Street press conference on Covid-19.

Some £360m direct from government departments will go to charities providing key services, he said.

Smaller charities will benefit from £370m, including through a grant to the National Lottery Community Fund, Mr Sunak added.

The government has also pledged to match the public’s donations to the National Emergencies Trust in the BBC’s Big Night In charity appeal on April 23, guaranteeing a minimum of £20m.

Mr Sunak’s announcement comes after a cross-party group of MPs wrote to him requesting that he urgently support charities, especially those “playing a crucial role in the national response to coronavirus.”

The Chancellor said: “It’s right we do everything we can to help the sector during this difficult time, which is why we have announced this unprecedented £750 million package of extra funding.

“This will ensure our key charities can continue to deliver the services that millions of people up and down the country rely on.”

Tens of thousands of charities are expected to benefit, including hospices, St John’s Ambulance, vulnerable children and victims services, and Citizen’s Advice.

The Charities Aid Foundation said that, prior to the funding pledge, 40 per cent of charities said that they “could not continue to operate in their current form for six months without help.”

Chief executive Sir John Low said that the funding is a “welcome start” but that charities need support “into the future as we come out of this crisis.”

Mr Sunak also provided an update on the health of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who remains in intensive care at St Thomas’ Hospital  after he was taken there on Monday evening.

The government stated on Tuesday that he had not needed help with breathing, such as with a ventilator, but that he was given oxygen.

Mr Sunak said that the PM is “improving” and has been sitting up in bed and engaging with his clinical team.

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