Jewish charities fear funding and staff gaps because of Brexit

Jewish Care said it could not function without EU nationals working there


Leading Jewish charities have said the government has “suggested weak solutions” to the staffing problems they are facing due to Brexit. 

Jewish Care said it could not function without EU nationals and not having enough staff as a result of Brexit is a “major concern” for the charity. 

The organisation’s chief executive, Daniel Carmel-Brown, said existing staff were being supported over concerns relating to their right to remain. 

“We already struggle to recruit quality staff so without them I have no idea what we would do,” he said.

While the charity has been assured existing EU staff will be able to stay in Britain, he said the government needed to recognise that organisations like Jewish Care will “need to continue to welcome health and social care staff from Europe”.

He said the government’s Immigration White Paper was “worrying for the health and social care sectors. 

“Very few of the roles we have are classified as ‘skilled workers’ paying over £30,000 a year. Sadly, front-line social care workers are wrongly classified as ‘low skilled’ workers and therefore will only be eligible for visas for up to a year.

“They will then be expected to leave and not apply again for a further 12 months.” Short contracts would result in the charity having to pay high training costs for staff “and before we know it they need to leave again”.

Like many charities in the community, around 80 per cent of Jewish Care’s funding comes from 20 per cent of donors. 

Mr Carmel-Brown said the charity had “big concerns” about the impact Brexit may have on fundraising. The charity said it needs to raise £15 million every year to keep its doors of open.

Mr Carmel-Brown said he would expect economic uncertainty to have a direct impact on people’s “propensity and ability to support” but “fortunately, to date this doesn’t appear to have been the case”. 

News that some people are considering leaving the UK “is worrying but at this stage there is no indication that our generous supporters will stop donating to Jewish Care,” he added.

The charity relies on just over £9 million each year from major donors to help it meet its revenue fundraising target.

Children and families charity Norwood also cites staff recruitment and funding as its biggest concerns when it comes to Brexit. 

Beverley Jacobson, chief executive of the charity, which needs to raise £12m a year in voluntary funding, said: “The barriers that Brexit will put up to entry to EU nationals will undoubtedly put huge pressure on the industry.”

According to Ms Jacobson, “political uncertainty” was making it “more difficult” to raise the funds.

However she did not feel major donors would stop supporting the charity if they left the country because of financial or political fears. 

“For 220 years our major donors have always been there for us, even in the most difficult periods, and we hope that they will continue to do so,” she said. 

The Fed in Manchester said that since the Brexit referendum, record numbers of nurses and midwives from EU27 countries had left Britain.

Mark Cunningham, chief executive of the welfare charity, said: “The reduction in nurses has a direct impact on charities like us who rely on them to provide social care. The NHS and local councils are two of our largest customers.”

Mr Cunningham said he was less concerned over donors pulling their money out of the country: “We need to raise £1.2million a year to deliver services that are not funded by the NHS [but] I have not heard from any donors saying they would not fund us due to Brexit.”

Michael Wegier, UJIA chief executive, said the charity was most concerned about the strength of the pound because much of the money it raises is spent on projects in Israel.

“If the pound is weak, by definition that means we can do less. It also means summer tours are more expensive and less people are likely to be able to afford it.”

Simon Johnson, chief executive of the Jewish Leadership Council, said that “as a community we need to work collaboratively to reduce our costs”, irrespective of Brexit.

“We have a perpetual issue whereby 80 per cent of our funding for our charities is coming from the same small collection of foundations. 

“Any change in the economy is likely to have an impact on that but the problem is a sustainability issue.”

He said charities in the community with a dual purpose could alleviate funding concerns by sharing costs and merging parts of their business.

Stuart MacDonald, treasurer of the Board of Deputies, said "some of the doomsday scenarios people fear may be overblown" but added: "We certainly cannot be complacent."

He said: “The loss of major donors due to political or economic uncertainties would have a substantial knock-on on our community’s ability to run the high-quality services at the levels we do.

“Indeed, a weak economy would have impacts across levels of giving and funding for services.”

He said it was important for communal organisation to “continue to advocate hard for a society and political climate which is good for all Jews — and good for the UK as a whole.”

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