What do the latest Covid developments mean for foundations

13 July 2021

The UK government has set out its advice on the next stage in the relaxation of Covid regulations in England (other UK nations will be setting out their plans soon). What does this mean for foundations?

Most statutory rules are going but new guidance is in place for much activity. At the same time, there is a rising wave of Covid cases in the UK, although the link between Covid cases and hospitalisations and deaths is weaker as a result of the vaccination programme.

Please read the latest UK government guidance for further information.

Some key points from the guidance, and from the current rate of increase in cases are:

  • The requirement for self-isolation for those with Covid or who have been told to isolate will mean significant disruption for many organisations, with staff potentially unavailable for work. It is likely that cases will rise to around 100,000 a day and without lockdowns, cases are unlikely to fall back quickly as in previous waves.

  • With rising cases in schools and childcare, parents and carers may also be unavailable to work. However, government guidance will change half way through the summer holidays with adults no longer needing to isolate due to contact with a positive case if they are double vaccinated, and children will also not need to isolate. Both groups will need to take a test.

  • The UK Government’s enthusiasm for a return to workplaces is being tempered, with the home working advice replaced with advice for a “gradual” return to workplaces. Employers will still need to take reasonable steps to mitigate risks from Covid. Guidance remains to minimise social contact as much as possible and organisations should use the NHS Covid Pass for high risk settings where there are large numbers of people in crowded settings (the UK government may make this mandatory if voluntary take up is low).

  • Though vaccination rates have weakened the link between cases and hospitalisations, Covid will still be having a health impact, particularly for those with long-term health conditions. Those who are clinically extremely vulnerable also face higher risks as Covid rules are replaced with weaker guidance with lower rates of adherence.
    For those who are employed, employers have a legal responsibility to protect their employees and others from risks to their health and safety and the furlough scheme remains until September. See the government advice available, for clinically extremely vulnerable people.

  • The economy is picking up and sectors like arts, heritage, retail and hospitality have opened up again (though with the disruption to staffing mentioned above). Charities and other organisations who rely on trading for much of their income should start to recover as a result and more work should be available in reopening sectors (particularly for younger people). However, while middle-, to upper-income households have built up significant savings, many low income households have lost income due to loss of hours worked or unemployment, and the £20 uplift to universal credit is due to be reversed. The Covid pandemic has deepened and made more visible existing inequalities around class and ethnicity.

  • We know foundations are already thinking about Covid beyond the immediate short-term. Two thirds in our survey earlier this year said that they will work differently in 2021 because of the impact of the pandemic, with nearly half of this group intending to do so throughout the year, and the same number saying they thought this would extend beyond 2021.

ACF chief executive Carol Mack said:

“It’s clear that Covid is far from over. While vaccination means the UK is not seeing the same rise in hospitalisations and death as in previous waves, many people are still at risk and others will be affected by the need to self-isolate or the continuing financial hit."

"I know foundation staff and trustees will continue to reflect on the guidance from the UK government and from the devolved administrations, and will see what they can do to help the causes they support to manage the impacts of the pandemic.”