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More than 90% of Charity Bosses and Social Enterprise Leaders Oppose No Deal Brexit - survey

More than 90% of charity bosses in Northern Ireland would prefer the current draft Brexit deal to a no deal Brexit and a clear majority would also like to see a second referendum, giving the option of staying in the European Union.

More than 100 charity chief executives took part in the poll which was run by CO3, the organisation which represents the leaders of Northern Ireland’s charities in conjunction with Social Enterprise NI.

CO3 chief executive Nora Smith said: “Collectively the Third Sector employs 45,000. Our work is vital not just to the economy but to the health and well being of society as well. We support the most vulnerable people in society. Our members work in many areas: health, mental health, the environment, education, peace-building, justice, human rights and social welfare. Most of them have deep concerns about the crisis over Brexit and the uncertainty that is creating for both their organisations and the people that they serve.”

“As a body CO3 is non-political. We took no position on the referendum but given what is at stake I feel it to be my duty to pass on the mounting sense of alarm within charities of the prospect of a no deal Brexit.“

The survey posed three questions. It asked if the government’s draft deal was preferable to a no deal Brexit. 92% of charity leaders said it was with 8% being in favour of no deal.

It asked for members’ opinions on a second referendum on exiting the European Union. 68% said they would favour one with 23% opposed and 9% unsure.

Finally it asked chief executives to identify their top priorities for Brexit. Protecting the Good Friday Agreement was identified by 75% of respondents with protecting social, economic environmental and human rights also at 75%, protecting benefits of EU funding for charities at 68%, minimising economic disruption for the most vulnerable at 65%  and flexibility on immigration for workers in the charitable sector at 43%.

Nora Smith said: “Brexit has profound implications for everyone. It affects all our lives, our futures, our economy and our future peace and prosperity. Powerful forces in politics, industry and pressure groups have, quite rightly, had much to say about it and will continue to do so. We have not heard so much about the interests of the most vulnerable who, after all, have most to lose if things are not managed well. This survey of leaders of organisations who work with vulnerable people indicate serious concerns which should not be ignored.”

Colin Jess director of Social Enterprise NI added: “The social enterprise sector is an area of growth within the NI economy. As such, and like any other business, our members need to have clear direction.  They work on a daily basis with those most disadvantaged and furthest from the labour market.  Their voice needs to be heard and this survey is a clear indication that the current uncertainty is of great concern to them. The social enterprise sector believes the present draft arrangement is its preferred option with a majority also calling for a second referendum now that the facts are on the table.”


Download the Survey Findings Online Here.