Westminster is treating the third sector with contempt as it plots Brexit, it has been claimed
Westminster is treating the third sector with contempt as it plots Brexit.
That’s the stinging response of Scotland’s charity umbrella body, after it was revealed that the Tory government plans to consult 58 business sectors but not the voluntary sector on the process of leaving the European Union (EU).
David Davis MP, the Brexit secretary, has published a list of 58 sectors across British society which will be spoken to in order to “help structure analytical work on EU exit.”
Sectors consulted include gambling, crafts and textiles – but charities are not on the list.
John Downie, director of public affairs at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), responded: “Once again the UK government has shown its absolute unthinking contempt for the third sector.
“The UK government's lack of a negotiating strategy and incompetence in its dealing with the European Union makes it all the more likely that Brexit will see the UK come out of Europe worse off. As always, it will be the most disadvantaged in our society who will bear the brunt and the third sector will be left to pick up the pieces at the hard end of Brexit.
“SCVO is working closely with our members and the Scottish Government to gauge the potential impact of Brexit on the third sector in Scotland. It is crucial that the UK Government recognise how vital our sector’s work is and it is high time they involved us in these discussions.”
Steve Reed, shadow minister for civil society, has tabled an urgent parliamentary question to ask why the third sector has not been consulted.
Reed said: “Although the government has consulted the gambling sector and the crafts industries, it didn’t bother asking the voluntary sector.
“Civil society organisations employ over two million people, contribute £12 billion to the economy and stand to lose millions in EU funding after Brexit.
“The government’s complete and utter disregard for the UK’s charity sector is breathtaking. When they started cutting public services, they told charities to pick up the pieces.
“Now, with charity funding drying up, the government doesn’t even pretend to be interested in what charities think any more. It’s a disgrace.”
Davis’ list was included in a letter to Baroness Verma the chair of the Lords Sub-Committee on EU External Affairs.
In the letter, Davis said: “We estimate that these 58 sectors cover around 88% of the UK economy.”
Davis’s department has been asked for comment.