Publication - Research and analysis

Brexit: unheard voices - views from stakeholders across Scotland on leaving the EU

Published: 13 Jun 2019
External Affairs Directorate
Part of:
Brexit, Communities and third sector, Research

Views from stakeholders across Scotland on leaving the EU and our response.

28 page PDF

1.5 MB

28 page PDF

1.5 MB

Brexit: unheard voices - views from stakeholders across Scotland on leaving the EU

28 page PDF

1.5 MB


Third sector organisations are extremely concerned about the potential workload that a no-deal exit would create on an already overburdened sector. 

Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire – South Lanarkshire’s Third Sector response to Brexit

Voluntary Action South Lanarkshire (VASLan) were provided funding in order to run and resource facilitated workshops, online surveys and conversations with third sector organisations in the South Lanarkshire area to be able to demonstrate the impact the UK’s exit from the European Union will have on these organisations, the services they provide and the clients and communities they work with. The workshops also allowed groups that are supported by VASLan to express their views on the UK’s withdrawal from Europe.

Some of the themes that emerged from the activity carried out by VASLan seeking the views of their stakeholders were:

  • Concerns of increasing demand on voluntary organisations in South Lanarkshire impacting on service delivery;
  • Impacts on future funding;
  • Stockpiling and cost of food; reduced access to food within foodbanks and community organisations;
  • Impact on EU Nationals within South Lanarkshire’s third sector; and
  • Increasing uncertainty around the whole process of leaving the EU.

One of the recommendations to come from VASLan’s work is that the views of organisations within South Lanarkshire on the decision to leave the EU need to be conveyed to government organisations. VASLan have already taken the step to engage with the Lanarkshire Local Resilience Plan working group, which contains a number of local and national government organisations, in order to communicate the views and findings from their consultations.

Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network – Action Planning for Food Security post Brexit

Midlothian Financial Inclusion Network (MFIN) explored food affordability and availability with local communities, and looked at how organisations dealing with financial inclusion and food can respond. The report noted that the UK imports around 31% (by value) of all its food from other EU countries and continued access to food is a key uncertainty surrounding leaving the EU

The work delivered a programme of community consultation events and in-depth discussions with partner organisations. These activities highlighted the implications for food security, price and availability in the area, and MFIN focused on the ability and capacity for a wider range of partners to work together to ensure that their stakeholders can still access quality affordable food, should the UK leave the EU

Issues highlighted

  • Concerns over food security have significantly increased over the last 8 years, with an acceleration since the EU referendum; there has been a 40% rise in food bank use with austerity and changes in welfare payments citied as causes; 
  • The chief cause of this increase in concern over food security is in relation to the UK’s decision to leave the EU;
  • Citizens in Midlothian are almost fully dependent on supermarkets as a source of food with very little arable land in the area providing fresh food locally; and
  • Concerns around food security was found to be a proxy indicator to wider personal, social and environmental issues in the community e.g. financial security, long-term illness, isolation and access to resources.

The report made the following key recommendations: 

  • Look at different approach to land use in Midlothian. A lot of good arable land being used for housing and there is an opportunity to rethink and develop a new approach to land use;
  • Finding ways to increase accessibility to fresh fruit and veg grown locally; additional effects would be to increase community empowerment, self-reliance, combat climate change and improve health and wellbeing; and
  • In the longer-term there is a need for increased collaboration with communities, non-governmental organisations, businesses and local government to improve food security.

"I probably would’ve been in a much less secure situation if I wasn’t working right now or was working for another employer who was not so supportive."

Scottish Government response to the issues raised

The Scottish Government will continue with its no-deal preparations to ensure that people will still have access to food and medicines in the event of the UK crashing out of the EU without an agreement in place. Communities across Scotland have identified concerns with food security and how Brexit might affect access to affordable, high quality food as access to tariff free markets is lost, increasing food prices and forcing more people to access foodbank services.

Brexit – and particularly the prospect of a no-deal outcome – poses a significant threat to Scotland’s third sector. It is disappointing that the UK Government still has not provided any detail on future funding arrangements. We share the concerns of Scotland’s third sector that the loss of structural funds without a clear replacement is a grave concern.

A toolkit for the third sector was developed by the Scottish Government, together with members of the Voluntary Sector Resilience Partnership, and published on 11 March 2019. It supplements other EU Exit resources on and