The Impacts of Brexit on Professional Bodies
In February 2017, PARN conducted an ATN survey on the impact of Brexit on professional bodies. Now that the transition period has ended, we reflect on how things turned out.
One significant pre-Brexit challenge, expressed by 16 professional bodies in 2017, was the uncertainty about residency entitlement of EU nationals in the UK. It was feared that this might cause decline in membership, skills shortage, and staff loss.
Despite guarantees that EU nationals could continue living and working in the UK, EU net migration has fallen in recent years (Office for National Statistics, 2020). On the other hand, migration from outside the EU has increased. Have professional bodies had their fears realised as result of EU citizens leaving the country, or has external migration helped offset these challenges?
16 ATN respondents reported concerns about financial and operational uncertainties, such as loss of contracts due to preference for EU-based organisations and changes to tax and VAT. Has the negotiated regulation defining the new relationship between the UK and EU safeguarded against these problems?
Conversely, nine organisations commented on how their reputation might improve due to their influence over post-Brexit policy. Others were interested in new opportunities, such as collaboration with organisations outside the EU, mutual recognition of qualifications and governmental support for international trade.
How successful were professional bodies in perusing these activities? Have new opportunities emerged post-Brexit?
Five of our respondents were in receipt of EU support and fearful of losing it. In 2019, the UK offered support for businesses preparing for Brexit and ensured that the withdrawal agreement enabled existing funding to continue. Is this enough to meet Brexit’s lofty promises?
The ATN posed an interesting question about the influence of professional bodies on Brexit negotiation. Seven organisations felt that they could have some degree of influence. How successful were professional bodies in lobbying the government? And have organisational profiles improved as a result?
The majority of our 2017 respondents felt that, on balance, the impact of Brexit would be negative. Though measures of Brexit’s impact have undoubtedly been altered by the pandemic, have the perceptions of professional bodies changed or remained stable now that the realities of Brexit are more certain?
 Office for National Statistics (2020) Migration Statistics Quarterly Report: August 2020. Available at: https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/august2020#eu-and-non-eu-migration-over-time (Accessed: 15/07/2021 2021).