Brexit information for the VCSE sector


Last updated 1st Feb 2021

The Brexit Transition period ended in December 2020. Since the 1st January 2021 new rules have applied to organisations and individuals as the result of the UK leaving the EU. This webpage aims to collate the latest information relevant to VCSE organisations into one place. This list is not exhaustive and if you cannot find the specific information you are looking for please visit the UK Government's Transition webpages or contact us to see if we can help.

Jump to section

  1. EU Settlement Scheme
  2. Employing EU Citizens in the UK
  3. EU Volunteers
  4. EU Funding
  5. Procurement Regulations
  6. Data Protection Implications
  7. Civil Society Forum
  8. Hate Crime
  9. Broader Policy

EU Settlement Scheme

EU Settlement Scheme 

 All EU nationals must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS) before the deadline 30 June 2021 in order to retain the right to work in the UK, use the NHS for free, enrol in education and access benefits. Please be aware that this includes any children of EU nationals including those born in the UK, and eligible Non-EU family members'. Full details of who needs to apply and how to apply for the EU settlement scheme can be found on the government website:

The government has created an employer toolkit containing information and resources (included some translated information) you may wish to share with your employees

From the 4th December 2020 there will be nationwide adverts to encourage applications and include messaging about the necessity of applying to retain UK rights, including benefits.  Further bursts of the campaign are planned from February 2021. Individuals generally have until June 2021 to apply if they became resident before 31st December 2020.

The Home Office has an EU Settlement Resolution Centre that can be contacted on 0300 123 7379 or through a link on their website

Citizen’s Advice has useful information about the EU settlement scheme and immigration on its website. You can get free help and advice from Salford Citizen’s Advice or any other branch of Citizen’s Advice across Greater Manchester.

Europia is registered (OISC Registration No. N202000121) to offer immigration advice for EU nationals in Greater Manchester. This advice is free and it is available in a number of European languages upon arrangement. Email: or Tel.: 0333 3058 570 

Europia has also produced information about what the EU Settlement Scheme is and how to apply in a range of languages (Czech, English, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian and Russian) that are free to download.

The government website has also produced translated resources.

Last but not least Brexit Civil Society Alliance have launched "Known Your Rights Cards" that can be distributed to individuals you work with. 


Employing EU citizens in the UK

You’ll need to continue to check a job applicant’s right to work in the same way we do currently until the 30 June 2021. You have a duty not to discriminate against EU, EEA or Swiss citizens and you cannot require them to show you their status under the EU Settlement Scheme until after 30 June 2021 after which it will be one of the requirements regarding the right to work.

A new immigration system will apply to people arriving in the UK from 1 January 2021 and EU citizens moving to the UK to work will need to get a visa in advance. EU citizens applying for a skilled worker visa will need to show they have a job offer from an approved employer sponsor to be able to apply. If you’re an employer planning to sponsor skilled migrants from 2021 and are not currently an approved sponsor, you should consider getting approved now.

CIPD have done a more detailed guidance document regarding employing overseas workers

Obviously, this will be a difficult time for many staff, volunteers but organisations are advised to make their staff aware of the EU Settlement Scheme and to identify whether you are at risk of a skills shortages and evaluate the cost of retraining new staff to replace or fill staffing gaps.

Flags of EU countries

EU Volunteers

The situation for EU Volunteers appears to be similar to employees. Until 30th June 2021 things will remain as they are and after that volunteers will need to have:

  • Settled or pre-settled status
  • European Temporary Leave to Remain
  • A visa which doesn’t prevent them from volunteering

Organisations should make their volunteers aware of the EU Settlement Scheme and if there is any possibility that the volunteer could be deemed to be working under a contract, then you should check those volunteers have a right to work in the UK, even if they receive no pay.


EU Funding

Post Brexit you can still apply for some types of EU funding (under the current funding frameworks) and will continue to get any funding you’ve been awarded. A list of the funding still potentially available is published on the government website. The government has also done a specific guidance page regarding EU Investment and Structural funds which includes the European Social Fund (which is one of the pots most frequently accessed by the sector.

The Shared Prosperity Fund is the planned government replacement for EU funding post-Brexit (ESF / ERDF). Details on the shape of this are very limited still but it was covered as part of the recent comprehensive spending review. In terms of headlines, we can gather - 

  • The fund will be delivered by MHCLG and DWP with a focus on people, communities and place as well as for local business.
  • Probably not much deviation from the strands in the previous ESF / ERDF strategy
    • Strong focus on employment and skills still – both investment in people 
    • Community and Place – not many details but it initially sounds more infrastructure and facilities (ERDF territory) than development aspects
    • Investment in local businesses – again lacks details but similar to previous funding streams with innovation, green and tech specifically mentioned
  • A lot of details still missing – it will eventually total 1.5bn per year BUT £220m pilot funding for communities over 21-22 to prepare for the rollout.
  • Further details in the new year and in the Spring will be details of a UK wide investment strategy.

On the negative side of things - the new funding may not start till April 2022 which may leave some organisations with a potential funding gap for project and programmes. Organisations who use European funding for projects and programme may want to review their budgets moving forward (if they haven't already) as well as discuss potential risks with their board etc,

But a potential positive depending on the approach of the pilots - this may result in simpler programmes with better mechanisms in terms of applying and reporting and potentially the ability to influence programme design at a local level. But time will tell!

Erasmus+ will be replaced by a Turing scheme. The new scheme will come into place in September 2021 and as of yet there hasn't been an opportunity to discuss the removal or replacement. We only know basic headlines at present in terms of that it will provide funding for around 35,000 students in universities, colleges and schools to go on placements and exchanges overseas but unlike Erasmus, it won't be a reciprocal process.

EU flag jigsaw

Procurement Regulations

The UK Public Contract Regulations 2015 transpose EU public procurement regulations ensuring fair competition for contracting opportunities across the EU single market. Procurement reform is on the government agenda however a Green Paper was published this month (15th Dec) and consultation closes on the 10th March. The aim is to try and reduce red tape, improve transparency and simplify processes. 

GDPR on phone

Data Protection Implications

As a result of the Brexit Deal data can continue to flow to the EU for an interim period (4 months which can be extended till 6 months) whilst the EU can review an adequacy decision for the UK. (Please note – when we say EU in this section we mean the EAA but it just doesn’t flow as well!) 

The draft Brexit deal makes it clear that the interim window will only remain open provided that the UK does not change its data protection laws from those in place on 31 December 2020 (i.e. the UK GDPR); and also does not exercise any of its ‘designated powers’ without agreement from Europe. The ‘designated powers’ referred to are a relatively long list of actions that the UK may not take with respect to international data transfers without prior agreement from Europe e.g. may not publish its own set of ‘standard contractual clauses’ or approve a draft Code of Conduct with respect to international transfers of data.

If the UK takes any such action without agreement from Europe, then the transfer window will automatically close (meaning the companies would need to put additional transfer mechanisms in place to legitimise the transfer of data from the EU to the UK). On one hand this appears to be a significant constraint on the UK post-Brexit but in reality, was a reasonable concession considering we had already effectively transposed EU law (GDPR) into UK Law. 

So, for now, there are no immediate actions required but what do we know beyond the interim window (or if the window closes form some reason)?

We still have UK Data Protection Regime (Data Protection Act 2018 with amendments to take out the references to the GDPR and EDPB etc.) and EU GDPR regulations and will need to consider both and how they interact. There is no evidence at the present that there is a plan to significantly revise UK law. 

  • UK GDPR (the Data Protection Act 2018) – Applies to all UK data controllers -  all reference to EU bodies will be removed. Post-Brexit the EDPB  / CJEU decision are not binding. The legislation will apply in a similar way to EU GDPR i.e.  re citizen based  in the UK
  • EU GDPR (The existing GDPR) – Applies as it to EU controllers etc. and if processing data about people based in the EU

So if you are a UK based org and working with EU citizens that are based in the UK then UK GDPR applies. The two sets of legislation only apply if your based in one and the person your processing that data about in the other.

An adequacy decision at the end of the interim window will essentially smooth data transfers between us and the EU (and keep things going without much change). There is a debate ongoing if the UK will get one due to our approach to surveillance etc and that anything decided will be as much as a political decision as it will be a data protection one.  If we don't get an adequacy decision we will move into "3rd country status"– so it’s best to plan for that scenario just in case!

3rd country status isn’t the most horrible thing in the world. A lot of countries are one – it just changes the way we may have to work. The UK has recognised the EU and all EU adequacy decision so data from the UK is pretty straightforward – we are mirroring what we are already doing.

The return of data from the EU is the difficult bit – that’s why there has been all the debate re adequacy etc above. To ensure the two-way flow of data it boils down to the current regulations in GDPR. For most VCSE organisations, this boils down to using  Standard Contractual Clauses. there are other mitigations but this typically do not apply to the majority of us. Currently, the EDPB guidance doc on new standard contractual clauses is out for consultations. The new guidance is on a  module basis so it covers a wider range of circumstance (which is good) but that also makes them harder to read/use in the first instance (not so good). But these won’t be in force by Jan 1st. Current clauses include the Crown Procurement ones (used by LA’s /  GMCA etc) and The ICO recommend some approved by the Danish regulator.

Actions you can do now

  1. Know what data you hold, on whom and where it is stored – we generally do this anyway as a record of processing activity or data audit. It’s part of the evidence for the NHS DSP Toolkit (if you have that on your task list for the new year) and is generally a good thing to have when working out what you have to do as data protection leads. For Brexit the two key things are the physical location of the data subjects (are they in the UK, in the EU or both and the physical location of the data storage is it the UK, EU or somewhere else. Also, double-check re cloud storage as it still sits somewhere in servers ultimately. If there is EU data storage or the data subject in the EU there will be implications to consider.
  2. Make sure you have a contract in place with all your data processors and that they contain standard contract clauses e.g. software, data storage etc. This is data protection requirement anyway as it makes sure you have clear roles and responsibilities in place etc. I will warn you that this might end up being a double task – checking them now for the standard clauses that exist and then potentially have to repaper/get deviations for them in 2021 when new ones are confirmed. If you processors are big companies / tech orgs etc they will probably have already issued new contacts (a lot did when GDPR came as standard) but double check as some may have slipped through!

Further Reading

This section is based on a briefing sent to the GM VCSE IG Leads Group - This a group for data protection leads with the sector - if you wish to be added to this list please contact

Organisations can find out more about this issue via the   ICO webpage on the topicThe Gov Website on Transition and for those who are interested in the subject the Brexit and GDPR Webinar is well worth a watch!


Civil Society Forum

At present details regarding this forum are very limited beyond what has been stated within the Brexit agreement. Essentially the agreement puts in place the requirements to consult on issues covered by the agreement (as well as any supplementary agreements) and that consultation should include independent civil society organisations (NGOs, Employers, Trade Unions) active in economic, sustainable development, social, human rights, environmental and other matters. Consultations need to take place at least once a year. As soon as we get more information we will let you know. 

Hate Crime GM

Hate Crime

Brexit has caused uncertainty for many citizens from other EU countries, and there was a rise in hate crime incidents across the country, including in Greater Manchester, following the 2016 referendum.

You may have members that are experiencing acts of racism, discrimination and verbal abuse as a result of Brexit. It is important that all communities feel supported and that acts of discrimination are not tolerated. As always you can contact Greater Manchester Police to report it or your local hate crime reporting centre.

In addition, the Greater Manchester Crime Support Line is available to offer support to victims of crime who may have concerns about how their crime has been recorded by Greater Manchester Police or would like support to help them cope and recover. The service is independent of the police and is being delivered by Victim Support on behalf of Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA). The Greater Manchester Crime Support Line number is 0808 1968416. This is a freephone number and opening hours are 9am - 7pm Monday to Friday

This temporary support line is for anyone who has been a victim of crime in Greater Manchester and who would like to share their experience with someone independent, in a supportive environment. As well as offering support to victims of crime via existing services, the dedicated line will also offer advocacy to victims of crime who wish to make a formal complaint, report a crime if it has not been recorded in the past as it should have been, or raise any associated issues or concerns.

EU flag jigsaw

Broader Policy and Campaigning

One thing the VCSE sector and Brexit have in common is that it covers a broad range of topics and policy areas! Our understanding of what Brexit means in practise for all of these areas is only just starting to emerge. The UK in a Changing Europe - Brexit and Beyond Report brings together over 70 leading academics come together to assess the opportunities & challenges that confront the UK now it has left the European Union. Covering everything from farming to welfare support it may be a good starting point to any internal policy planning you may be undertaking. 

Seizing The Opportunity: The Case For Embracing Civil Society's Role In Democracy is a report from the Brexit Civil Society Alliance. The report aims to set out the structural and cultural shifts that are needed to truly include the voices of civil society organisations in democratic and policy-making process post Brexit. To support this work they have produced both an advocacy toolkit and a campaigning toolkit which may help some organisations. To support organisations they have also gained legal advice from Blake Morgan LLP in the form of a short guide and checklist to help third sector organisations understand their obligations under the Lobbying Act 2014.


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Tel: 0161 787 7795 


Salford CVS is the city-wide infrastructure organisation for the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector; providing specialist information, advice, development support and opportunities for influence and collaboration.

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