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Charities (Economic Downturn)

Volume 495: debated on Wednesday 1 July 2009

9. What steps the Government have taken to assist charities that have been affected by the failure of Icelandic banks; and if she will make a statement. (283146)

The Government have taken unprecedented steps to help third sector organisations affected by all aspects of the international economic crisis. We have listened to the sector, including those organisations affected by the Icelandic banking collapse. The packages announced in the real help for communities fund and the more recently announced hardship fund total £59 million. That clearly demonstrates our commitment to supporting the sector through difficult times.

A large number of charities have had their assets frozen as a result of the Icelandic banking collapse. Why have the Government ignored the Treasury Committee’s recommendation for compensation, and will the Government consider establishing a short-term Treasury loan fund to help out sound charities facing genuine hardship? [Interruption.]

The Government are doing an enormous, unprecedented amount to help charities and voluntary sector organisations that are facing difficulties in the recession. The hon. Gentleman outlined the situation facing one group of organisations. I have to say to him that it would be difficult to single out one particular organisation or reason. The hardship fund that is in place, which is real help now, is a greater package than has ever been in place to help charities through difficult times. It has never been matched by any previous Government.

Will my right hon. Friend congratulate the beloved Christie cancer hospital in Manchester on its successful campaign to obtain a refund of charity money lost following the collapse of an Icelandic bank? Will she thank the Government for arranging that refund, and will she congratulate Lord Bradley on heading that successful campaign?

Everyone is always pleased—indeed, the Prime Minister has said so himself—when organisations that are in difficulties gain support. The refund was a local decision, taken by NHS North West, responding to a local need. We are all very pleased to see Christie getting the support that it deserves.