The National Council for Voluntary Organisations has called on the government to set up a fund to help charities mitigate the effects of a no-deal Brexit.
Sir Stuart Etherington, chief executive of the umbrella body, has written to Baroness Barran, the charities minister, warning that charities must not be overlooked as the government ramps up preparation for a possible no-deal Brexit on 31 October.
Etherington says government departments have been asked to submit bids to the Treasury for extra funding for a no-deal departure from the EU and urges Barran to take the opportunity to ask for funding to be set aside for voluntary sector organisations to support local communities.
"In the event of a no-deal EU exit, it is very likely that many charities will be front and centre not only in providing an immediate response, but also in supporting communities up and down the country in the longer term," he says.
"There is also a strong case for the Office for Civil Society to call for a ‘resilient communities fund’, set up specifically for charities working with and supporting local communities."
He says charities could well be on the front-line in terms of supporting communities in the event of a no-deal Brexit but would need resources to do so.
"While business investment is crucial, to be truly effective it must go hand in hand with the social support that many families and individuals need in order to improve their lives and tackle the underlying, often longstanding problems," he says.
"Often it is community groups and volunteers who can best deliver this.
"However, this could be particularly difficult for charities that are already operating on low reserves.
"A funding package should therefore be set up specifically for charities that can help support communities with a range of needs in the event of a no-deal EU exit."
He says this should provide "easily accessible" grants with minimal administration so they could be distributed swiftly to support services that will be needed.
Etherington stops short of asking for a particular sum to be made available to the sector and the NCVO hopes the letter will be the start of a conversation with government about what will be needed from charities in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
"We all want to avoid a situation where communities are left without the support and services they might require after our country’s EU exit, especially in the event of no deal," the letter says.
"Charities have an incredible reach into communities, and the increasing role they play in our society means that – perhaps more than any other sector – they will be called upon."