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Public in dark over ‘tremendous upheaval’ Brexit would cause services

The majority of the population believe European Union membership has a negative impact on public services despite public sector leaders feeling that this isn’t the case, according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) ahead of next month’s EU referendum.

A survey by CIPFA found that 36% of respondents thought EU membership is detrimental overall to public services, whereas 31% thought it was beneficial, and 78% thought it put pressure on public services.

Despite this, 48% of respondents said they would vote to stay in the EU compared to 41% saying they would remain, although 11% didn’t know.

Rob Whiteman, CEO of CIPFA, cautioned: “Jobs, healthcare, defence and all the issues we care about rely on public services that are deeply interlinked with EU membership. This message has not got through strongly enough.”

The research also found that 31% of respondents thought health and social care would improve if the UK left the EU, 20% thought it would get worse, 46% thought it would make no difference and 3% didn’t know.

However, 37% of those surveyed thought national security was better in the EU, against 26% thinking it would be better out and 34% who didn’t know.

In contrast, CIPFA interviewed 20 public sector leaders and found that all but one of them supported remaining in the EU.

“What is abundantly clear is that decoupling the British state from the EU will cause tremendous upheaval for public services for many years,” said Whiteman.

Public sector leaders warned that the cost of leaving the EU to the UK’s GDP, estimated to be 6.2% by 2030, could lead to a new age of austerity and another round of public service cuts.

The report from CIPFA also found that EU structural investment has created 50,000 jobs in the UK, assisted the start-up of 20,000 businesses and supported 1,300 research and technical development projects between 2007 and 2013.

CIPFA also said that an EU exit would have a negative impact on health services because of the loss of the free movement of professionals, with 10% of health and social care staff in the UK coming from the continent.

However, it did say that healthcare was sometimes hindered by EU regulation which UK leaders “seemed unable to influence”.

The most recent edition of PSE features articles by Anand Menon, professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King’s College London, on the potential impact of an exit from the EU on UK public agencies, and by Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council and chair of Core Cities UK, on why he believes the UK is better off in the EU.


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Paul   05/05/2016 at 13:36

The public are also in the dark about what happens if we remain members. The EU is changing even faster now and will continue to do so if we stay. There is no status quo on offer. In my opinion voting remain is signing a blank contract, It will enable the EU to impose whoever they wish on us, with no comeback, guarantee cost increases and rule changes and no way of removing those in Brussels who call the tune.

Paddy   05/05/2016 at 16:48

This is only one opinion which cannot be based on facts, simply because we do not know what the future for the EU greater Europe will be. Many so called experts, from both sides, will be giving their opinion and we will all have to make a decision based on gut feeling. I am for BREXIT. I voted to be a member of the trade association of the European Union way back, but was appalled that we signed the Treaty of Lisbon which gave away our rights. We are in a dreadful mess now with no control over this beautiful land. We can survive without being in the greater EU. For so many, many reasons please vote OUT.

Sean G   05/05/2016 at 17:30

At the moment, there is too much focus on what's in it for the UK but there is a much more important bigger picture. It's only right that a wealthy country like ours contributes more than it gains, to help address huge inequalities across the continent, which themselves would cultivate conflict (and more migration) in a divided 'I'm alright Jack' Europe. Crucially, it's a mere few decades since European countries were shelling each other. Unity is the best way to address inequality and guard future peace. This issue alone should trump all others, especially as there seems to be no convincing argument either way on issues of economy.

David   06/05/2016 at 08:00

I think the no more conflict argument to stay in is superfluous as the EU expanding its influence is seen as a threat by the Russians and that could lead to another war.

Sean G   06/05/2016 at 09:27

True, eastwards expansion is a real issue and could be provocative, but it's NATO's aggressive expansion that is perhaps more troubling for Russia. Nonetheless, many countries that are now relatively united in Euriope were recently at war. It would be illogical to think that a fragmented and therefore weaker Europe would somehow be safer from any external or internal threat, be it Russia or terrorism.

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