No-deal Brexit could lead to bleak winter for charities in Scotland


Social care suppliers could collapse within months of departure from the EU, with food prices and drug shortages hitting vulnerable communities

13th September 2019 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

A no-deal Brexit will result in the collapse of social care providers, food price rises and shortages of medical supplies.

The UK dovernment published its Operation Yellowhammer plan earlier this week, which claims to make the “worst case assumptions” of what could happen if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal, after MPs voted to force its release.

The papers make chilling reading for Scotland’s voluntary sector, particularly in relation to social care.

Yellowhammer states that no-deal would place a sector that is already under strain under considerable pressure during the depths of winter.

The document said: “The adult social care market is already fragile due to declining financial viability of providers.

“An increase in inflation following EU exit would significantly impact adult social care providers due to increasing staff and supply costs, and may lead to provider failure, with smaller providers impacted within two – three months and larger providers four – six months after exit.

“There are also possible concurrent localised risks: transport or staff disruption, severe weather winter or flu that could exacerbate the existing market fragility, and that cumulatively could stretch resources of providers and local authorities.”

Along with Camphill Scotland and the Alliance, the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) has been leading calls for a full and independent review of the impact that Brexit will have on social care. A private member’s bill, introduced by Brendan O’Hara MP and led by the three organisations, has received the backing of more than 100 charities and other groups from across the UK.

“The snapshot that the Operation Yellowhammer report gives into the detrimental impact a no-deal Brexit will have on health and social care is alarming, but not surprising,” said David McNeill, director of development at SCVO.

“The fears that those working within the health and social care sector have over Brexit have been apparent for a significant amount of time.

“This is why, along with Camphill Scotland and the Alliance, we have been calling for a thorough and independent review of the effects that leaving the European Union will have on health and social care. This document shows it is more important than ever that a review is held, and we re-iterate our call for politicians of all parties to work together to avoid a disastrous no-deal exit.”

Neil Henery, director of Camphill Scotland, said: "No-deal intensifies the double impact that Brexit is already having on Camphill. It deepens the uncertainty and insecurity felt by our existing European workers – over 350 of them in Scotland. it further repels those who might otherwise want to come from Europe to live and work with us. Both developments are to the great detriment of the vulnerable people we support."

Alongside fears over social care, Yellowhammer details disruption to food supplies, with prices of basic items set to rise.

Kath Dalmeny, chief executive of Sustain, the alliance for better food and farming, said preparations are being made for a possible food crisis.

She said: “Sustain has undertaken intensive work over the past nine months, supporting leading emergency food aid organisations feeding people in extreme need, and groups working on school, care-home and hospital food, attempting to get their concerns addressed by government ministers.

“These organisations are deeply worried about the consequences of a significant rise in food prices and significant disruption to fresh food supplies. These distinct possibilities are identified in the government’s Yellowhammer document published under duress this week, setting out ‘reasonable worst-case planning assumptions’ for a no-deal Brexit.

“The groups Sustain works with are also concerned about the likelihood of price rises and disruption causing food donations to dry up, for the frontline charities that serve extremely vulnerable people – an issue not even touched upon in the Yellowhammer document.”

Dalmeny added that it is particularly concerning that the document reveals the government does not feel a duty to step in and secure food supplies, neither for the general population, nor for people most vulnerable to food price rises and shortages of fresh food.

Medical supplies are also set to be hit by a no-deal departure, with vital drugs for those with long-term conditions likely to be affected.

British Medical Association (BMA) Council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: “Here we see in black and white the government warning of disruption to vital medicine supplies, a higher risk of disease outbreaks due to veterinary medicine supply issues, and UK pensioners in the EU being unable to access healthcare from 1 November if there is a no-deal Brexit.

“The warnings around social care providers folding within months of Brexit day are particularly concerning, having a huge impact on our most vulnerable patients and the wider health service in the depths of winter.”