Retail giants repay £850m after call from The Women’s Organisation

In April, Liverpool social enterprise The Women’s Organisation highlighted the contrast between COVID-19 support cash paid to companies such as Tesco and that offered to charities. Tony McDonough reports

Tesco, retail
Tesco and Morrisons have agreed to pay back £850m in COVID-19 support


Supermarket giants Tesco and Morrisons have agreed to repay £850m in Government COVID-19 support payments following pressure from Liverpool social enterprise The Women’s Organisation.

In April, the chief executive of The Women’s Organisation, Maggie O’Carroll, called for an “urgent review” of the Government support package for struggling charities. She contrasted it with the business rates holiday offered to big companies.

Many of the country’s 170,000 charities have also been hit by a catastrophic fall in income as high street charity shops had been forced to close and fundraising activities ground to a halt.

Now Tesco and Morrisons has agreed to give back the £850m they claimed at the height of the pandemic and now Ms O’Carroll is calling on other large retailers to follow suit and return cash to the exchequer.

“Large retailers have been able to continue to trade through the pandemic and have even seen an increase in profits. Charities have been hit the hardest yet continue to provide vital survives with limited Government support,” she said.

“The third sector is now under enormous pressure with higher demand for services from vulnerable groups. Now that positive steps are being made with big businesses we call on the Government to follow suit and target support at those who need it most.”

Maggie O'Carroll
Maggie O’Carroll, chief executive of The Women’s Organisation


The Women’s Organisation has continued to provide a vital lifeline during the pandemic. It was revealed in October that more than 4,000 people have accessed support since the crisis began in March both through its direct work and as the lead agency in the Liverpool City Region Enterprise Hub project.

Ms O’Carroll added: “We urge the Government to invest in a national programme to grow and expand women’s businesses, helping to create jobs and move people back into employment.”
She also urged the Government to fill the gaps in the current range of support measures which have so far excluded many owner-directors and people who have become recently self-employed.

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