Brexit uncertainty is forcing companies to stockpile products they would normally donate to charity, the chief executive of In Kind Direct has warned.
In Kind Direct is a charity which collects surplus stock and redistributes it to other charities. Chief executive Robin Boles said that charities and vulnerable people are suffering due to a change in the level of donations.
“As we move ever closer to leaving the EU, we are seeing a drop in donations as our donor companies are forced to hold on to stock that would normally be donated to us,” she said.
“Without these products we fear that many of the charities in our network will be forced to close their doors or reduce the service they are able to provide and this will have a massive impact on the millions of vulnerable people they support. And this is all before any issue of tariffs arises.”
There are fears that charities could suffer as a result of tariffs, an uncertainty surrounding essential goods running out, and concerns about delays at customs borders.
Boles added: “It is understandable that companies are having to manage their stock carefully during this uncertain period. However, charities and consumers alike would urge manufacturers and retailer to continue to supply products charities need to run their services and provide to those most vulnerable in our communities.”
Founded by The Prince of Wales in 1996, In Kind Direct has distributed more than £200m worth of donated products to charities, community groups and social enterprises. It has also saved 25,000 tonnes of products from landfill or incineration.
The charity recently published its report Providing Life’s Essentials, in which 96 per cent of respondents said that poverty in their local areas has remained the same or increased in the last year.
Retail and consumer expert Kate Hardcastle said: “There is no doubt that the uncertainty around Brexit is creating concern and challenges for business leaders, yet it is essential for our communities that organisations don't lose sight of the value of their charitable giving.”
“I would urge businesses to be as proactive as possible, creating new opportunities for the future and sharing the gift of essential stock to those with the greatest need.”
A spokesperson for Oasis, one of In Kind Direct's partner charities, said: “Without their help we would struggle to be able to deliver the service within the local community ensuring that the most vulnerable people benefit from these products. A number of our service users come in regularly to see their keyworkers and to stock up on basic items to help them get through their week. It makes their lives so much more bearable.”
The spokesperson added: “Anything that interrupted this flow of products from In Kind Direct would have a seriously negative effect on our most needy service users. If we were unable to continue with their help and support I am not sure what would happen; as a service we would find it devastating.”