SNP Member of the European Parliament Alyn Smith has today spoken at a high-profile third sector conference to warn of the dangers of Brexit, and to assure the sector of his continued support. He highlighted estimates that losses to the sector could start at £200million a year, rising to £500million by 2020. This adds to the already challenging financial and regulatory picture charities face.
The event, Enterprising Third Sector 2016, took place in Musselburgh just outside Edinburgh, drawing together participants from all strands of Scotland's third sector. Alyn is himself a Trustee of LGBT Youth Scotland and Honorary Vice President of the SSPCA, so has first-hand familiarity with the challenges the Third Sector is facing.
"At a time when Scotland's charities already have a tough outlook, Brexit is an added complication nobody wanted.
"The immediate financial implications are severe, with the Charity Finance Group estimating an immediate hit, rising as details of Brexit emerge, but also in that charities are going to have greater need for their services as the economic impact of Brexit hits the wider society and economy.
"It is going to be tough, and from a Scottish perspective we will work flat out to preserve all that we can. But we will need the sector to be vocal, and work together like never before. In my experience, too often Third Sector organisations view each other as competitors, when, really, Brexit is an incoming tide that is going to hit everyone's boat. We need to work together, and be vocal to try and influence events.
"It is obvious to the dogs in the street that there is no coherent Brexit plan in Westminster, and as one emerges I hope that Third Sector interests, along with all others, will be properly represented. I will certainly do my bit."