A third sector leader has called on the government to support organisations through the economic downturn by strengthening legislation.
Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, said the government could help by making a scheme to use money lying in dormant bank accounts compulsory.
Under the Dormant Bank Accounts Bill currently being considered in parliament, banks and building societies can choose whether or not to transfer money from dormant accounts to the community.
NCVO is proposing an amendment to give the government a reserve power to make the scheme mandatory if banks and building societies fail to co-operate.
Etherington also called on the government to exempt charities from paying tax on the proposed development of land under measures being considered as part of the Planning Bill 2007-8.
He said: “These two steps would give us an assurance that the government understands the pressures we face, and provide vital funds at a time when the country will need us most.”
Etherington said £230m of charity money was frozen in an Icelandic bank, leaving organisations “terrified” that they would not get paid for services they provided to local authorities.
“Unemployment is predicted to reach 2 million by Christmas, placing a massive strain on those charities who advise and support unemployed people into work and give advice on money, housing and families. We really need an urgent boost from the government,” he added.