Voters unaware of EU impact on public services, CIPFA suggests

Many voters are unaware of the European Union’s (EU’s) impact on public services in the UK, according to new poll commissioned by the Charted Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA).

A poll conducted by ComRes on behalf of CIPFA found a large proportion of people don’t think that Britain’s membership to the EU makes a different to key public services. 46 per cent thought that EU membership makes no different to health and social care, while 44 per cent believed it to make no difference to consumer protection and 40 per cent didn’t think it affected economic development.

In addition to this, 60 per cent didn’t think that EU membership had an impact on the quality of higher education.

CIPFA also conducted a series of in depth anonymised interviews with public sector leaders, which identified the far-reaching effects of EU membership. These interviews found that the chiefs are more likely to be in favour of membership.

19 out of 20 believed the benefits outweigh the drawbacks, highlighting that an economic downturn following Brexit could hit funding for public services, and that free movement of people has enabled areas such as health and social care to access a wider pool of skills and talent.

However, they did acknowledge that immigration had placed a fiscal strain on local government, especially in the south east.

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA chief executive, said: “Our research shows an extremely complex picture. Overall, in the research amongst public service leaders, respondents considered the benefits of EU membership outweigh the drawbacks.

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