We look at some of the potential issues of forming charity partnerships post-Brexit and discuss some of the progress charities have already made
Charities have long been adept at solving challenging problems. This has been particularly the case amid COVID-19, with charities swiftly pivoting services and fundraising online as well as forming partnerships to better support beneficiaries.
Brexit presents another set of problems and it is inevitable that charities will again work together. Here we examine some of the likely issues related to Brexit where charity partnerships are set to form.
As the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) has pointed out in its latest advice, Brexit creates potential threats to charity beneficiaries as well as opportunities to lobby ministers and strengthen policy.
The NCVO specifically highlights employment rights as a key battleground, noting that the government may be “looking to loosen employment regulations”.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has denied that workers’ rights will be lowered, but concerns remain that workers’ mental health and wellbeing will be at risk amid any government review of post-Brexit employment issues.
We are not going to lower the standards of workers’ rights— Kwasi Kwarteng (@KwasiKwarteng) January 14, 2021
The UK has one of the best workers’ rights records in the world - going further than the EU in many areas
We want to protect and enhance workers’ rights going forward, not row back on them https://t.co/HUsL7bpOK0
Already charities, such as Citizen’s Advice, are campaigning individually around the issue and partnerships are set to follow should the government present firm plans around employment rights.
This could involve a broad base of charities, including those focusing on addressing poverty, promoting flexible and remote working, as well as reducing mental health problems, particularly in the workplace.
The end of June 2021 is a key campaigning period for a raft of charities, who support EU nationals living in the UK. This is the deadline when such beneficiaries can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in Britain and access support and housing.
According to mental health charity Newport Mind, as many as 6,000 EU nationals in Wales alone have yet to apply.
Partnerships are already forming around this issue, with Centrepoint and AIRE Centre jointly helping EU nationals to apply and therefore averting a potential homelessness crisis for this group after June 2021.
Another charity involved in this issue is Settled, which provides advice and support in different languages to EU citizens in the UK. This was set up in 2019 and has a network of 100 volunteers throughout the UK.
Settled has already been involved in partnerships on immigration issues post-Brexit. In November 2020 it joined charities including Homeless Link, Roma Support Group, and Housing Justice to write to UK ministers urging them to improve housing support for non-UK nationals.
Brexit has ramped up red tape in a raft of areas, particularly in the importing and exporting of goods. A key challenge is around border check delays, especially when bringing goods in and out of the country. Risks include lorries being turned away without the right paperwork and perishable goods being wasted.
This presents an opportunity for food poverty charities in particular to link up to ensure those on low incomes are not adversely affected by post-Brexit border control changes.
There is a group of charities that has already been excelling at partnership working in recent months through the Child Food Poverty Task Force, a coalition of voluntary sector organisations, which was launched by the footballer Marcus Rashford to help families facing food insecurity.
Among opportunities for charities to work together to influence and strengthen UK policy post-Brexit is on green issues.
Post-Brexit, UK politicians have heightened freedom over Britain’s environmental policies, which gives plenty of scope for charities to influence and campaign together.
Our new research shows that two-thirds of Brits want the government to do MORE to tackle climate change. #TheTimeIsNow to supercharge climate action and go further and faster to create a cleaner, greener world that works for everyone. https://t.co/4mWBMOxIAM— The Climate Coalition (@TheCCoalition) January 18, 2021
This has included publishing research earlier in January 2021 that showed that two-thirds of Britons want Boris Johnson’s government to do more for the environment.
As well as on the environment and employment rights, charities need to brace themselves for a raft of further legislation coming from Westminster to complete the process of exiting Europe.
The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which was signed on Christmas Eve 2020, is just the start of policy changes. The trade agreement mainly focussed on goods, immigration, and settlement issues, but other areas are still to be agreed. A key one is on financial services, where further discussions are set to take place.
The Civil Society Forum looks to be the key organisation for charities to seek to influence the UK and EU’s relationship in the post-Brexit era. This was set up as part of the two sides’ Trade and Cooperation Agreement and will meet at least once a year.
It will also give charities looking to work together useful advanced warning of where further legislation changes may arise and to prepare their campaigning.