I wrote a previous blog about Brexit back with the last deadline was upon us – it is still an interesting and salient read and if anything more relevant now – worth reading!
The UK third sector seems to have been slow to respond to Brexit. In part I suspect because many charities were fighting for their existence amongst the many and ongoing cuts from the governments between 2010 and 2019. A near decade is a long time of losing income and capacity to try and bounce back from.
Those that have thought about it, have focused mostly on the impact it will have to their fundraising plans, not only on income from the EU, but also those organisations headquartered in the EU that fundraise in the UK. But less so on the operational side, largely because so much is still unknown.
The current [Johnson] government was hell-bent on a no-deal Brexit, which would have had further terrible consequences and it was the threat of a no deal Brexit that seemed to finally galvanise many charities into considering the impact of Brexit for their operation.
For many it has been about figuring out how a shrinking economy is going to further affect their services and where else they can make cuts. For those organisations based in the UK operating abroad, the most severe immediate impact is the fluctuation in the value of the Pound. Even for those (especially humanitarian) organisations that do hold reserves in other currencies to ensure swift response to disasters, the short-term future is unclear and the longer-term future even cloudier.
The current Conservative government has tried to set out what it believes a future UK might look like post-Brexit, however it mostly appears to be a massive spending spree aimed at potential swing voters and Brexit Party voters to shore up the government’s position and not a coherent future vision for the UK that everyone can buy into. And that is what is sorely missing in all of this.
There is nothing that charities, social enterprises or even the British public can latch onto with any certainty and say that this is a vision of a future UK that they can sign up to and focus on to get us through a messy EU divorce or a prolonged slow departure.
And as I said in February, there is no leadership and no vision. Without either, there is little that the third sector can respond to, other than its own visions and goals for its work. That, however, is not enough.
Britain is sorely in need of leadership that can steer a course in these choppy waters!