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Leaving the EU: Charities and Voluntary Sector

Volume 623: debated on Thursday 16 March 2017

2. What assessment she has made of the potential effect of the UK leaving the EU on charities and voluntary organisations. (909284)

The Government are assessing the impact of leaving the EU on the voluntary and community sector. We are in ongoing discussions about the challenges and opportunities that leaving the EU presents, and I encourage charities to raise specific concerns with relevant lead Departments. We will continue to work with the sector and with devolved Administrations, including the Welsh Assembly, as we plan our exit from the EU.

I thank the Minister for his response and I place on record that I co-chair the all-party parliamentary group on charities and volunteering. He will be aware that this is a serious situation, with somewhere between £350 million and £450 million being seen as the Brexit shortfall, and that does not include match funding. Can we have some assurances that there will be a long-term strategy, and not just in terms of current funding?

I thank the hon. Lady for her work on the all-party group, which obviously has support both inside and outside this House and is of great benefit to the sector. On working with the sector on funding, leaving the EU means that we will want to make our own decisions on how we deliver the policy objectives previously targeted by EU funding. For projects signed after the 2016 autumn statement, funding will be honoured by the Treasury after we leave the EU if it provides strong value for money and is in line with domestic priorities.

According to the Directory of Social Change, the money that charities get from the EU amounts to some 0.5% of the sector’s income. Does my hon. Friend agree that the opportunities afforded by the Government’s proposals to access dormant funds will go a long way towards covering any shortfall in funding from the EU, and might exceed it?

Indeed, I do. Last year, according to the Charity Commission, the sector received about £73 billion in income. The Government have a number of funding mechanisms that are aiding the sector now, and £5 billion of tax reliefs and other support is in place to make sure that the charity sector can go from strength to strength.

7. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations conducted a survey last month on the impact of Brexit on the charity and voluntary sector in Scotland. Some 40% of charities are concerned about their networks and collaborations with other EU charities. What will the Minister do to reassure Scottish charities, and indeed charities across the United Kingdom, that those networks and collaborations will be protected post-Brexit? (909290)

Charity legislation is devolved from the EU, so it is a UK responsibility, and within the UK responsibility for charity legislation is devolved to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Government are listening very closely to all parts of civil society across the UK, and we will be working closely with them to make sure that we have a long-term plan and a long-term strategy.

The Brexit Secretary tells us that he has done no work to understand the implications for the country of a no-deal Brexit. What work has the Minister done to understand the implications of a no-deal Brexit for charities, not just in terms of funding but in terms of the sector’s extremely diverse workforce?

There is an enormous amount of ongoing work, and we recognise that civil society organisations have a wide range of important views on Brexit. We have chaired a number of roundtables with representatives from the sector, and we are working very closely with the sector. As I said in a previous answer, we have a long-term plan and strategy to make sure that the sector is supported.