The Charity Finance Group has warned that a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the sector.
Speaking at the organisation’s annual conference, CFG chief executive Caron Bradshaw said the Brexit process had exposed a “polarised” society, to which charities are “best placed” to respond.
CFG previously published a report which argued that a “clean Brexit”, whereby the UK leaves the customs union and single market, posed “least risk” to charities than other arrangements of leaving the EU.
It had argued that there were opportunities for charities to thrive post-Brexit with the possibility of a reduced tax burden creating “50,000 extra jobs in the sector”.
But at a Brexit panel discussion yesterday, Bradshaw said CFG had not seen “any positive movement on any of the things we thought could potentially be addressed through the process of exiting the European Union”.
She said: “The only thing we have taken a position on is that a WTO or a no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic for the sector.
“We have chosen to use that powerful word because we think is isn’t just about what would happen to us as a sector. It would also be able what would happen to those we support and serve.
“The glib soundbites that are attached to a no-deal Brexit paint it as a simple solution but it is far from that.”
'Huge unmet need'
Bradshaw said the areas that voted most heavily for Brexit were those which had a “gap for charitable support”.
She said: “What that says to me is there is huge need being unmet and we need to find out where those places are and take our services into those places.”
Bradshaw added that charities should lobby more on Brexit issues such as the government’s shared prosperity fund, which is being designed to replace regional EU funding.
She said: “We need to be getting our voices heard at roundtables for the UK Shared Prosperity Fund as it is developing. At the moment, I don’t think the charity or social voice is there. It is largely entrepreneur, business public.”
At the same panel discussion, Campbell Robb, chief executive of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said his organisation had found it difficult to lobby during the Brexit process.
He said: “We struggle to get any breakthrough with politicians whose headspace is entirely used up by talking about Brexit and not really focusing on the progressive priorities that we want them to.”