Age UK has admitted it will have to close some of its centres and run services from village halls because of the economic hit from coronavirus.
The charity’s North Yorkshire and Darlington branch announced today proposals to close four offices in Richmond, Northallerton, Harrogate and Darlington, with seven jobs at risk.
Helen Hunter, the chief executive of the regional branch, insisted that services for lonely older people would be unaffected and would be provided from other locations including village halls.
She said: “This proposal is a highly regrettable consequence of the huge financial impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on the entire charity sector, but our absolute priority is to maintain all our frontline services in these difficult times.”
Charities are eligible for state support, but industry figures bemoaned the relatively small figures available to the sector compared to private businesses.
Robin Osterley, chief executive of the Charity Retail Association, said that the entire charity sector had been given around £750m, while individual businesses had been given almost the same amount in business rates relief.
He also said charities had been hit by the limit on state support which has curtailed the amount they can claim in grants while shops have been closed.
“I think we are going to see a few charity shops closing but I am confident it will not be too many,” he said.
“The Government is of course quite right to support business, but to charities to the extent they have at a time when they are most needed is difficult.”
Among the services offered at the centres which Age UK is planning to close are a veterans’ service and day care. They will be moved elsewhere.
Ms Hunter said the Government support had been slow to arrive.
She added: “The reality is that, with so many charities needing help, the funding has been slow coming through at a time when revenue generation through our fundraising activities has stopped.
“Therefore, the only option we have is to look at reducing costs, and tough decisions are having to be faced to ensure we protect frontline services and give the charity a sustainable future.”
A Government spokesman said: "We are providing at pace an unprecedented multi-billion-pound package of support for Britain's charities so that they can continue to help those in need.
"This includes £750m announced by the Chancellor - £200m of which is open to bids from smaller charities. Charities can also benefit substantially from other government financial support schemes, including the coronavirus job retention scheme and the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme."