UK charities must speak out about the proposed replacement for European Union funding when the government launches its consultation, or they could lose out on future finance, the chief executive of UK membership body the Employment Related Services Association has said.
Chief executive Kirsty McHugh spoke at NPC event Is the social sector ready for Brexit? in November, saying that charities faced both risks and opportunities from the UK leaving the European Union but that the biggest risk was the loss of the European Social Fund.
She said that while a consultation on the UK’s replacement for the European Social Fund, the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, has faced delays, it could be consulted on before Christmas. Few details of the Fund are yet known, such as the money available, how it will be allocated and who will run it, making it crucial for the sector to speak up when the opportunity arises.
Figures shared by McHugh showed that the European Social Fund was worth £4-5 billion to UK charities between 2007-13, and an estimated £3.5 billion for 2014-2020.
The pressing issue of Brexit meant, she said, that the government was unable to devote enough time to considering important social issues:
“It does not have the bandwidth to do the thinking in relation to some of the more pressing social issues at the same time as Brexit.”
Urging UK charities to speak out, McHugh said:
“We really do need a decent successor to the ESF. When that consultation comes out, we need to respond in great numbers. Those of us who have the greatest voice need to make the greatest noise, because I am still worried that someone in Number 10 will make a decision about that pot of money and that will affect all of us.”