25 Aug 2020

Brexit Transition

It is vital that voluntary and community organisations take action to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period.

On 1 January 2021, the UK left the EU single market and customs union. The free movement of workers between the UK and the EU countries, and the associated rights to the same working conditions, social security and health services, will have also ended.

There are specific considerations for the voluntary and community sector as the end of the transition period might increase demand for service delivery organisations, which could be adversely affected by potential disruption to supply lines for food and medicines. Also, there are new requirements that will impact on organisations’ governance, funding and workforce.

EU, EEA or Swiss citizens will be entitled to live and work in the UK post-Brexit if they apply for the EU Settlement Scheme. The deadline for applications has been moved to 30 June 2021. EU nationals should apply well before the deadline as some applications might take a long time to complete.  Suggested actions: Undertake an audit to identify any EU, EEA and/or Swiss nationals among your workforce and volunteer base, and encourage them to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme. You can use this employer toolkit to support your workforce. You can also signpost them to Citizens Advice Merton and Lambeth (CAML), where Merton Council has funded specialist advice services. Further here. It is also essential that you plan for future skills shortages to ensure that increasing need doesn’t go unmet. Anyone coming to the UK to work, except for Irish citizens, will need permission in advance. If you wish to employ workers from abroad, make sure you are a registered sponsor. This process usually takes eight weeks.

EU Funding
The UK government underwrote funding for all organisations which have secured it through existing EU programmes such as EU structural funds, EU regional development funds and Horizon 2020, even if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. This means organisations will continue to get any EU funding they have already been awarded, and for the entire lifetime of such programmes and projects. Organisations can also continue to apply for EU-funded projects under the current spending framework, and during 2021. The deadline will depend on which fund you apply to. Further information here.

Some organisations may be unaware that they receive personal data from the EU. Personal data flows take many forms, including any outsourced HR/back office functions, and partners’ or suppliers’ names and addresses. A no-deal Brexit would mean the continued free flow of personal data between the EU and the UK would no longer be automatic. More. Suggested Actions: Consult the ICO guidance and gov guidance to review your contracts to ensure your organisation can continue receiving personal data from the EU/EEA from 1 January 2021.

Movement of Goods
The process for importing goods from the EU will change. Organisations in the UK need to complete the following actions to continue importing from EU countries from 1 January 2021. Similarly, the process for exporting goods to the EU will change. Organisations need to complete the following actions to continue exporting to EU countries from 1 January 2021. From 1 January 2021, many goods would have to undergo border checks. This could cause disruption to supply chains. In case of no-deal, extra duties and taxes will also apply to imports and exports, causing prices to rise. Disrupted supply chains and higher prices might affect your access to goods such as food or medicines.

Suggested Actions
All organisations are urged to review their supply chains and ensure that suppliers have adequate contingency plans in place for 1 January 2021.

You should identify costs for short-term continuity in your operations and how they would be funded. You can check current funding opportunities on the Merton Voluntary Service Council and Merton Council websites. You should also be thinking differently about how to involve volunteers or share assets in case you’ll be required to operate with limited resources. Merton Voluntary Service Council can also provide support around recruiting and managing volunteers.