What are the implications of Britain leaving the EU on the Third sector?


What are the implications of Britain leaving the EU on the Third sector?

A Brexit from the EU is causing a split in opinion across the UK, is Britain stronger out of it? With politicians on both side of the divide campaigning tirelessly to win votes before the referendum on the 23rd June, we have a look at what impact the result of the referendum will have on Social Enterprises and Charities throughout the UK.

In 2014, according to the 'Britain Stronger in' Campaign around 249 charities received over £217m in funding from the EU, and this funding would run the uncertain risk of not being renewed if Britain were to leave the EU.  A few charities have also stated that leaving the EU would not only have a finical impact on the Third Sector but an environmental one too. RSPB NI have told the BBC that a Brexit could lead to a negative impact on Wildlife Preservation as the EU Agreements have been key in providing protection to birds and habitats in the British countryside.

So how does the Third Sector feel about the EU referendum? Social Enterprise UK have run a survey to find out they key concerns of Social Enterprise Leaders:


  • 74% of people running social enterprises will vote to stay in the European Union. This is compared to 1 in 7 (15%) who will be voting for an exit.
  • 67% expressed concerns about Britain leaving the EU as it could potentially restrict access to European social funds at a time where funding in the UK is difficult to obtain.
  • Following from the above 54% are worried about ease of access to European markets.
  • 43% said they would be nervous that the Scottish Government (who are advocates for Britain to stay in the EU) would call for another referendum for independence leading to a potential break up within the UK.
  • 1 in 8 (16%) were not troubled about Britain leaving the EU.
  • Two thirds of social enterprise leaders surveyed (63%) said there are no advantages for their social enterprises if Britain decided to leave.


However, as with all campaigns positives were recognised. 24% believed there would be less “red tape” (Social and Environmental regulations) which would be beneficial to social enterprise and charities. 21% said that they would have more direct access to global markets (compared to 54% above who believed it would be harder). The survey also found the following key findings: 


  • 58% Social Enterprises leaders said their future would not be at risk if Britain left the EU in comparison to 22% who said it would be.
  • 18% of social enterprises export to the EU, while 15% export to countries outside of the EU.
  • 36% or respondents said that their social enterprise would not grow if Britain left the EU, 40% said Brexit would make no difference to their growth and 10% said their social enterprise would continue to see growth.                                                                                                                                                            


There are some clear differences in opinion in terms of access to funding, however in terms of growth there seems to be no stand out winner. How will you be voting?


If you are a social enterprise and in need of funding? Have you heard of CAN’s dedicated service CAN3 to maximise growth and impact? Find out more on our webpages.

Category: CAN Group