Charities and Brexit: where are we now?

(via The Guardian)

By Christy Cooney and Ciaran Price

It’s been eight months since the fateful referendum and we are now starting to see a slightly clearer picture of what to expect from Brexit and how charities fit into the equation.

What do we know?

The government’s negotiating strategy has become clearer – we’re going for a hard Brexit, withdrawing from the single market and imposing still-undefined controls on immigration from the EU. The process is also clearer – the supreme court has determined that MPs must approve the triggering of article 50, which means legislation will be needed, and a white paper is on the way so there are opportunities here for charities to engage in debate and highlight issues important to their beneficiaries.

The major slump feared before the referendum has not yet materialised but forecasts of growth are low and the government’s own estimates put the Treasury’s coffers £122bn poorer by 2020 than was forecast last March. The likelihood is that this will see services cut, hitting the poorest and most vulnerable disproportionately. This will translate into more pressure on charity services.

Future of funding

The fate of EU-funded projects remains a key concern for many charities. Following the referendum result, Chancellor Philip Hammond pledged to underwrite EU-funded projects that are signed-off before Britain leaves the EU.

However, his guarantees are not backed up by any legislation or formal policy. Despite his public assurances, funding that is directly administered by EU institutions could be most under threat immediately after Brexit happens. This is because the UK government has not been involved in the process of distributing these funds. Our preliminary research indicates that in 2015 £189.9m was paid directly to UK charities by the European commission.

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