In case you haven’t heard, the UK will leave the European Union at 11pm on Friday 29th March 2019.
There has been lots of talk about the effect this will have on higher education and business, but not much talk about the effect on charities. My view is that this will affect charities and voluntary sector organisations in a number of ways.
A number of philanthropy and alumni relations staff at UK universities are thought to be working here under the freedom of movement rules. There are a number of staff working overseas for British international development charities on the same basis. They either come from EU countries or work in the UK on passports from EU countries that they have family ties to. It is not clear how EU nationals will be treated post Brexit. The UK government says it is prioritising this issue, but regardless of this it is bound to have an effect on where people consider working when they have to look for a new job.
Leaving the EU means that access to EU funding will end. This has been a major source of funding of infrastructure projects which has helped some larger charities build facilities and benefited many smaller ones through by improvements to local facilites. The loss of EU funding for local authority projects may reduce other budgets and reduce their ability to channel funding into the voluntary sector.
The ability to get grants from trusts and foundations in Europe may be reduced. Just as some English trusts stopped funding Scottish charities after the 2014 independence refrerendum, it is possible that perceptions will change and the UK will feel more seperate from europe to trusts receiving applications from UK charities.
UK charities who have income, or expenditure,in Euros or Dollars will be affected by any reduction in the value of the pound following Brexit. However, this would work both ways. If the Pound fell 10c against the dollar $100 would be worth about £7 more, but $100 worth of goods would cost about £7 more. International development charities will be particularly vulnerable as they operate in many countries and a lot of their turnover can be in foreign currencies.
Although the UK government is intending to mirror all current EU regulations into UK law as a starting point this is going to change over time. Will the UK continue to provide as much international aid? Will environmental controls remain the same? There are a myrid of unanswered questions.
The Charities Aid Foundation issued a research paper on this issue last year which you can find here. This concentrated on the effect of Brexit on charitable giving, but it is still worth a read.
What do you think? Leave a comment below.