A group campaigning for the UK to remain in the European Union has warned British charities could pay a significant financial price if the nation votes to exit in June’s referendum.
Britain Stronger in Europe said 249 UK charities and third sector organisations benefitted from over £217m in funding from the EU in 2014, and these funds would be put at risk should the UK exit the EU.
The campaign arrived at the £217m figure by analysing the Financial Transparency System, which shows beneficiaries in receipt of direct EU budget funding administered by the Commission’s departments, its staff in the EU delegations, or through executive agencies.
Shadow Minister for Civil Society Anna Turley said Britain’s charity sector is recognised around the world for its work here and abroad.
“This great work is recognised and supported by our partners in Europe and our charities benefit hugely from being part of the European Union.”
Commenting on the figures, Acevo chief executive and outgoing chair of Social Investment Business Sir Stephen Bubb said British charities “benefit hugely” from the UK’s membership of the EU.
“Not only does it help us work with partners across the continent, fostering civil society, but some of Britain’s best known charities receive significant funding to carry out their vital work.”
Vote Leave spokesperson Robert Oxley said in a statement: “These grants are in reality UK money that has been through the cogs of Brussels bureaucracy only to be returned to worthy causes. Leaving aside issues such as charities relying on taxpayer funded handouts and impartiality questions, it would be better if those handing out the grants were accountable to the people footing the bill. The only way to ensure that is to Vote Leave.”
Jayne Adye, campaign director of Get Britain Out, said the UK gives much more money to the EU than it receives back. Therefore, an exit would mean the Government would have more money to support the voluntary sector and a range of other British industries.
“We believe it is up to the British people to decide how their money is spent – not the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels. Our elected Government in Westminster is much better placed to delegate which organisations receive what funding,” Adye said. “British charities will survive outside the European Union, and could potentially receive even more funding from a sovereign British parliament than they do now.”