On 1 January 2021 the UK left the EU Single Market and Customs Union, as well as all EU policies and international agreements. This ended our free movement of persons, goods, services and capital with the EU.
On 24 December 2020, EU and UK negotiators reached an “agreement in principle” on the text of a new “Trade and Cooperation Agreement”. This has four key pillars of cooperation, explained in this summary produced by the European Commission.
Where do we start?
It is important to ensure your organisation’s governance is as effective as possible – The Scottish Governance Code for the Third Sector offers guidance, practical tools and templates to help governing bodies ensure their organisation is operating to the highest standards. If you already work to the Code, now is a good time to review your practices. Where applicable, the following documents should be updated to consider Brexit and its potential impacts on your organisation:
- Risk assessments / Risk management procedures
- Asset and resource register
- Business continuity plans
- Business plan
- Financial strategy
- Operational plan
- Register of interests
Remember to communicate, where applicable, what you are doing to prepare with your staff and volunteers, service users and clients and the organisations you work with. They may have valuable insights into particular issues or planning they can share.
How do we know what to plan for?
There are a several sources of information for voluntary sector organisations. These include Brexit Ready Scotland, which is targeted towards Scottish businesses, and a Scottish Government EU Exit Toolkit for voluntary and community sector organisations for continuity planning workshops. It included a self-assessment checklist which can be downloaded here:
- NCVO has produced a Key points to consider briefing for the voluntary sector
- The UK Government has also published guidance for civil society organisations.
- The Brexit Civil Society Alliance is a grouping of charities, voluntary groups and campaigning organisations.They also offer weekly bulletins on Brexit and the impacts on civil society.
- Information for organisations on Data Protection and Brexit, including the potential impact of Brexit on GDPR.
What about our staff and volunteers?
Around 3,500 EU nationals are directly employed in the Scottish voluntary sector. At SCVO, we believe every person who works to make a difference to Scottish communities should be valued, and that includes our colleagues who have come from other EU countries to live and work here. Scotland’s voluntary sector is strengthened thanks to their contribution. Through our #EUareValued campaign we are encouraging organisations to ensure their staff, volunteers and service users can access accurate information and the support they and their families may need.
- Telling your staff and volunteers about the advice and help available, such as the Scottish Government Stay in Scotland campaign and support package is a good place to start. The campaign includes regularly updated guides for employers and EU citizens, factsheets, posters and leaflets.
- Citizens Advice have a free and impartial helpline service – 0800 916 9847 – for EU citizens resident in Scotland with issues and concerns about the EU Settlement Scheme.
- The Home Office have an email alert system for people and organisations to receive updates about the status of EU citizens.
What is SCVO doing?
Along with our #EUareValued campaign, we are:
- liaising with the Scottish Government regarding the implications of the current pre-suspension of some European funding (not specifically related to Brexit)
- liaising with the UK and Scottish Government regarding the proposed ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’ which is intended to replace some existing European Funds. The Scottish Government is currently carrying out its own consultation on proposals for replacement funding – this closes on 12 February 2020.
If you are an SCVO member our Professional Networks can help you make the most of information, peer support and shared learning around planning for Brexit. You can find SCVO blogs, SCVO policy briefings and press releases on Brexit topics here.
More information and policy analysis can be found at the Scottish Centre on European Relations, an independent and unaligned think tank.