How covid-19 has affected the Triangle Garden’s finances

Treasurer Andrew Green outlines how covid-19 and other factors have affected the Triangle Garden’s financial situation:

The year was dominated by the impact of COVID-19 on our activities, and those effects are likely to continue well into the next financial year.

Fundraising was significantly curtailed. Whilst Apple Day and Halloween in 2019 were successful, we have been unable to run any of our other usual fundraising events, notably the Open Day. Options for alternative fundraising activities were considered but with TCG staff on furlough, volunteers unable to meet, and uncertainty around every corner, there have been no new initiatives for filling the sizeable hole in TCG’s income.

Our pavilion has also been an important source of income in previous years – generating fees from use by local community groups and classes, and hosting TCG workshops. With the pavilion closed for many months, and with ongoing Government restrictions on the number of people that are allowed to meet, this source of income was also drastically reduced this year.

Fees from clients were also vastly reduced due to the suspension of sessions during lockdown. Even since the pavilion could be re-opened, fee income has continued to be limited by the need to ensure safeguards were in place which have restricted the ability to run sessions as normal.

Our survival was helped in large part due to both the Government’s furlough scheme and also a discretionary grant of £10,000 that we received from North Herts District Council in June. Our thanks to the Council for their approval of the grant and speedy distribution of funds.  

Without these financial supports, we would have undoubtedly ended the year with a significant deficit and would have been questioning our ability to continue.  As it is, we have finished the year with a surplus of just over £5k which has bolstered our reserves and put us in a much better position to weather the difficulties ahead.

As noted, we relied heavily on the furlough scheme to ensure that our dedicated and expert staff could be retained during the lockdown. This was essential if we were to have any chance to re-opening and starting our activities again. Our thanks therefore goes to all of the staff who have worked so hard, in the lead-up to lockdown and in the large amount of work that was needed once we re-opened – from undertaking risk assessments to developing and implementing COVID-secure practices in order to keep clients, staff and visitors as safe as possible.

However, we are not out of the woods yet. The year ahead is full of uncertainty, not only due to the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and the threat of further restrictions, but also due to the outcome of Herts County Council’s new tendering process.

HCC were in the process of changing the tendering framework and the fees it would pay for residents to attend a broad range of adult social care services, when the pandemic struck. The process was paused for a number of months but has been re-started and is expected to conclude within the next few months.  

Having made strong representations to HCC highlighting how their proposed standard rates did not properly take account of the nature of TCG’s services and its costs, we are disappointed that they continue to push ahead with a rate structure that would not cover the costs necessary to run our sessions. At the very least, this may mean a restructuring of how we run our sessions plus a focus on identifying potential new client groups (and areas outside the county) that we have not previously catered for.

Looking ahead, we envisage that 2020/21 is likely to result in a substantial deficit unless sessions can return to previous levels and expand, and our fundraising activities can begin again safely. In the year ahead we are likely to be heavily reliant upon charitable grants and donations if we are to avoid drawing upon a large portion of our reserves.

I’d like to thank Margaret Byrne for her sterling work keeping our accounts and navigating the furlough system, and to all those who have made donations this year particularly St Mark’s Church, and all the Friends of the Triangle Garden whose donations totalled over £360 this year.

If you would like to become a Friend of the Triangle Garden, by contributing even as little as £2 a month, please click on our donate button and set up a monthly donation of your choice – every small amount added together makes a huge difference to us.

Thank you

Andrew Green – Trustee & Treasurer