With an overwhelming Leave vote from the people of the North East, I’m left wondering what will the impact of Brexit be for our North East communities and the voluntary and community sector that supports them?
There is no doubt we have hit a period of both economic and political uncertainty which is taking its toll on the markets. We may be heading into another recession, which will hit communities in the North East particularly hard, as we are still feeling the impact of the previous recession. Austerity measures have hit the North disproportionately hard in terms of public sector funding cuts which has already had a big impact on the voluntary sector. Can we take further cuts? Will it push some of the sector over the edge?
Impact on investment income
Other funding streams are likely to be affected such as grant giving foundations. They rely on investment income and with share prices and sterling falling, plus rising inflation, these investment declines may impact on donor giving.
End of EU funding
Long term, the biggest hit we may feel in the North East is the end of EU structural funds, as the region has benefitted significantly from these funds for many years. The government may establish alternative programmes to meet the gap, but political uncertainty and a potential general election mean no-one can predict what will happen there. In the short term, despite re-assurances about the current EU Funding Programme from the Department for Communities and Local Government and Big Lottery, there are still some concerns about future programmes.
The need to support minority communities
The North East voluntary sector also needs to recognise there may be job to do and some challenges ahead given our role in supporting inclusive communities and with minority communities following the apparent perceptions of the impact of immigration in the North East and anecdotal evidence of a rise in ‘social tensions’.
Stagnation on influencing policy
We also need to be aware that nothing is likely to happen quickly and whilst things are being put in place to manage our exit from the EU and whilst the current political landscape plays out then it will inevitably create a pause if not stagnation on current policy issues. Decisions will be potentially be delayed which will impact on the sector and the communities they support such as the forthcoming Welfare Reform and Work Act.
In the meantime the sector will no doubt recognise the need for continuity and stability in these uncertain times and continue to work to support North East communities and bring them together.
Are you being impacted?
The Cabinet Office is asking us to collate any impact on the VCS from the Brexit vote and where risks might lie. If you have any comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org