NICVA Viewfinder Reveals Sector's Brexit Concerns

Brexit Infographic

NICVA recently disseminated a Viewfinder Survey to members which aimed to explore how Brexit might impact the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector. This article shares key findings from the survey. 

Viewfinder is a NICVA survey which focuses on issues affecting the voluntary and community sector. The survey is disseminated to NICVA members approximately four times a year. The third Viewfinder of 2016 focused on the impact of Brexit on the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) sector. The Viewfinder was circulated to NICVA members (n=990) using an online survey platform between 3- 28 October 2016 and achieved a response rate of 27% (n=262). Key findings from the survey are presented below. 

Impact of Brexit

A high proportion of respondents (77%) stated that they had concerns about the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Respondents were asked to select their main concerns about Brexit from their organisation’s perspective. The top three concerns included: ‘the impact Brexit will have on funding for the sector’ (87%), ‘the effect Brexit will have on the Northern Ireland economy’ (86%) and ‘the impact it will have on funding for my organisation’ (74%). A full table of results for this question is presented below.

Brexit Concern Percent Count
The impact it will have on funding for the sector  87 174 
The effect that it will have on the Northern Ireland economy  86 171
The impact it will have on funding for my organisation  74 148
The possibility of a physical border being created between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland  72 143
The UK's withdrawal from the European Convention on Human Rights  60 119
That there will be a rise in racial or social tensions  58 116
The impact it will have on peace and stability of Northern Ireland  55 109
The impact it will have on devolution  43 86

Base: 201 (multiple choice question)

Just 12% of respondents stated that they felt Brexit might bring about positive opportunities for the VCSE sector. The main positive opportunities identified by respondents (n=31) included: ‘the sector will benefit from a reduction in unnecessary amounts of red tape and bureaucracy that the EU imposes’ (77%), ‘the sector will benefit from the return of decision-making power to democratically elected representatives’ (73%) and ‘the UK government will no longer be constrained by EU tax regulations’ (60%).  A full table of results for this question is presented below.

Benefit Percent Count
The sector will benefit from a reduction in unnecessary amounts of "red tape" and bureaucracy that the EU imposes  77 23
The sector will benefit from the return of decision-making power to democratically elected representatives  73 22
The UK government will no longer be constrained by EU tax regulations  60 18
The transitioning period will provide increased opportunities to influence policy  40 12
Brexit will limit the amount of migration to and from the UK  30 9

Base: 31 (multiple choice question)

Policy Arena

A high proportion of respondents stated that EU policy priorities had  been good for the VCSE sector (75%) and many were concerned that Northern Ireland will be less able to influence global policy following the UK’s departure from the European Union (67%).

Brexit Negotiations

Respondents to the Viewfinder survey were concerned about Northern Ireland’s involvement in the Brexit negotiations, with 83% stating that Northern Ireland will not have priority in the UK governments Brexit negotiations. In addition, 83% stated that political disagreements in the Executive will weaken Northern Ireland’s position in Brexit Negotiations.

European Networks, Projects and Funding

Just over one-quarter (28%) of respondents stated that their organisation was involved in a European Union network or project. These projects and networks included Peace III and IV, European Social Fund projects, Erasmus, Eurochild and Interreg.

Over one-tenth (12%/ n=31) of respondents stated that they currently received funding from the European Union. The average amount of total EU funding received by these organisations was £1,505,330. On average organisations received funding for a period of three years. The European Social Fund was the main funding source identified by respondents.

Information Gaps

A high proportion of respondents (63%) stated that they did not feel fully informed about the implications of Brexit.

Do you feel fully informed about the implications of Brexit (base: 262)

Respondents listed a wide variety of areas relating to Brexit for which they would like to receive more information. The main information gaps that respondents identified around Brexit are listed below (please note these are not listed in any particular order):

  • The overarching Brexit strategy
  • The economy
  • Border plans
  • European funding
  • Human rights
  • Disability rights
  • Research implications
  • Article 50
  • Employment legislation
  • Trade
  • Relationship with ROI/ collaboration with ROI organisations
  • Movement of people/ immigration
  • Government’s approach to negotiations
  • Impact on VCSE sector
  • Political refugee status
  • Environmental implications

Information Sources

A small proportion of respondents stated that they felt fully informed about the implications of Brexit (17%/ n=45). These respondents identified the media (80%), politicians (42%) and NICVA (42%) as their main sources of information. Results to this question are presented below. 

Brexit Information Sources (base:45, multiple choice question)

 

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