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Migration

People, power and priorities – the UK refugee and migration sector and independent funding landscape

This new report from Migration Exchange (MEX) presents a comprehensive review of the UK refugee and migration sector and independent funding landscape, looking at areas of growth and focus since 2020, with insights on key thematic areas.

The sector in 2023 – key stats

Analysis of Charity Commission data and survey results revealed interesting findings on the size, focus and resources of the sector, including:

  • The refugee and migration sector includes registered charities, other formally constituted not-for-profit organisations, a wide range of voluntary and community-based organisations, and international organisations.
  • There has been an increase of 137 new charities (24%) established between 2020 to 2022 which work on refugee and migration issues.
  • Funding to the sector increased significantly (51%) between 2020 and 2022 – largely due to emergency funding in response to Covid-19. However there are concerns about whether this funding level can and will be sustained.
  • Resources to the sector are heavily concentrated in large organisations. In fact just 3% of charities in the core sector control 44% of the funding.
  • NGOs remain largely dependent on trusts and foundations for funding.

The sector in 2023 – key priorities

Drawing from interviews and consultation workshops, the report presents deeper analysis and suggested actions around six key priority areas:

Adapting to external challenges and crises

Funding for more systematic and strategic collaboration, including horizon scanning, shared funding infrastructure and legal advice, can strengthen our power to go beyond rapid response.

Financial sustainability and funding

By investing more in those doing ground-breaking work where the need is great, independent funders could spread their support more equally. A shared approach to growing the overall funding pot would also help build a solid foundation for the future.

Racial justice, power and lived experience

Real change will only happen when those with power reflect deeply on the lasting impact of colonialism and racial injustice, and start distributing resources differently. Additionally, involving people with lived experience of migration is a vital step towards achieving fundamental, inclusive and collective change.

Employee wellbeing and leadership

By urgently investing in collective care, leadership development, and fair work and pay policies, people will feel safe and protected.

Influencing and campaigning

To prepare for the 2024 General Election, we can benefit from building wider alliances that link frontline expertise with political influence and power.

Alliances and collaboration

Solidarity with people on the move is the bond that connects organisations across our sector. But we need more time and new opportunities to deepen collaborations and broaden our alliances. By pooling our power and expertise we can present a united front on the issues that matter most, and create a better future for everyone.