SCVO media release
6 February 2017

86% of Scotland’s charities fear Brexit economic shock

Charities in Scotland are warning that Brexit could have a severe impact on their survival, with further negative effects on their ability to help the people they support. The stark findings come from a recent survey of over 400 charities and voluntary organisations conducted by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).

Key results from the survey include:

  • 86% of respondents feel that leaving the EU will harm the Scottish economy, with further negative implications for public spending, charity funding and public donations.
  • 81% are worried about advances in human rights and equalities legislation bring rolled back. This is of particular concern to disability rights campaigners.
  • Just 6% thought leaving the EU would bring about significant positive opportunities.
  • 39% of charities are, or have previously been, part of European networks or collaborations.

Further concerns were expressed about the poor economic outlook for local and national government spending – a key source of funding for charities across Scotland. At the same time, rising inflation will put more pressure on already squeezed household budgets, pushing more people toward stretched voluntary organisations.

SCVO Director of Public Affairs, John Downie, believes it is time for the voice of the voluntary sector to be heard in the Brexit debate:

“Uncertainty and a lack of clarity around what leaving the EU will mean is causing alarm within the sector, particularly on issues such as the economy, movement of people and fighting poverty. There is deep unease that the people aspect of the debate is being forgotten in favour of a hard-nosed emphasis on business.

“It’s time to recognise the fact that Europe has been critical to the makeup and success of civil society in Scotland. From funding for medical research to the sustainability of the health and social care workforce, there is a huge amount at stake. The voluntary sector needs to be heard as Brexit negotiations go forward.”

A full briefing on the survey is available on the SCVO website.


Notes to editors:

  1. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations is the membership organisation for Scotland’s charities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises. The Scottish third sector turns over £4.5 billion a year and employs 138,000 people in over 45,000 organisations. For more on SCVO see
  2. For more information, please contact Jordan Ogg, Communications Officer, SCVO on 07557 968 914.