Charities cannot 'take sides' but should explain impact of Brexit

28 Jan 2019 News

Peter Kellner, chair, NCVO

Charities cannot “take sides” about Brexit but the sector should explain the impact of different possible outcomes to the government, NCVO's chair has said. 

Speaking at NCVO’s National Volunteering Forum last week, Peter Kellner said that the charity sector should not have a view about Britain’s position in the EU, however it should analyse the likely impact of potential Brexit outcomes and share these findings with the government.

He was responding to a commitment from the prime minister to involve charities more in the process. 

“It is not the role of our sector to take sides about whether or not the UK should leave the EU,” he said, before adding that NCVO will be writing to Downing Street to outline the need to find “common ground” when developing a deal.

He said that he expects the sector to have an important role in the years ahead. 

“The need for effective voluntary action on that common ground is certain to grow whoever is in government in the years ahead and whatever our relationship with the rest of Europe,” he said.

He added that it was important to look at the various consequences of different deals, including effects on funding. He said: “It is in my view emphatically our role to explore the consequences of different possible outcomes of the Brexit saga.”

His comments come after Theresa May announced that she would be speaking to civil society organisations to get their views in advance of continued Brexit deal negotiations. In a statement to the House of Commons on 21 January, she said that it was important to engage different interest groups to shape a deal.

“We will reach out beyond this house and engage more deeply with businesses, civil society and trade unions,” she said.

Volunteering research

Kellner’s comments were made at the NCVO National Volunteering Forum, when the findings of NCVO’s report, Time Well Spent, a National Survey on the Volunteer Experience were presented.

The report showed that while people enjoyed their experiences of volunteering, there is a diversity issue, with a high proportion of volunteers coming from a white or middle-class background.

Kellner added that the key issues in volunteering were dealing with these demographic barriers, expanding volunteering to public services, using technology to support volunteering and increasing instances of employer supported volunteering.

 

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