Government support measures for third sector may have unintended consequences for medical research charities

17 April 20

written by:

Róisín Treacy

(more articles)

Two scientists in a lab.

The government is being warned that new measures to support charities during the Covid-19 pandemic could have negative consequences for medical research charities like Fight for Sight, who will not benefit from them.

In a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) outlined their concern that the £750m package may falsely reassure the public and others that the charity sector as a whole is being financially supported.

This is not the case, as Fight for Sight and other medical research charities will not benefit from the measures as they do not provide commissioned frontline services, despite supporting vulnerable people with sight loss through this crisis.

Fight for Sight is funded by voluntary income and the charity is now facing an unprecedented challenge with fundraising income likely to take a significant hit during the pandemic. Eye research was already woefully underfunded, with only one percent of national research funding invested in eye research, even though twenty percent of people in the UK will experience serious sight loss or blindness in their lifetime.

Chief Executive of Fight for Sight, Sherine Krause, said: “The government support package is welcome news for those charities delivering frontline services but unfortunately doesn't help charities like Fight for Sight, investing in vital research to find solutions for sight loss. It’s important to remember that it’s not only frontline charities that the Government and society as a whole relies on - researchers depend on charities to fund their early-stage research, leading to treatments and cures for the future. Inevitably investment in this area will be affected by the pandemic so we need to ensure that medical research gets the right support.”

In her letter to the Chancellor, AMRC Chief Executive Aisling Burnand said: “Science and research are central to the UK’s exit strategy from the current COVID-19 pandemic and to future health and wealth. Charities are a crucial component of the UK’s R&D base and AMRC’s members are committed to doing all they can to support the collective effort both for the immediate need and for future health and stability.”

Fight for Sight is doing everything in its power to maintain business as usual during the Covid-19 pandemic and is seeking to continue to award research funding over the next few months to ensure that its work to stop sight loss continues in the coming years.

Fight for Sight is a member of the Association of Medical Research Charities, along with 144 other charities.

Our plans to continue the eye research pipeline throughout the covid-19 crisis and beyond Important eye care during Covid-19 pandemic