Councils are concerned about the impact of Brexit on workforce shortages, particularly in social care, a report by MPs has revealed.
The MPs said the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) should monitor key sectors that local government stakeholders have highlighted as at risk, particularly construction and social care.
The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has called on the government department to make representations to the Home Office proposing immigration schemes with sector-specific workforce shortages, such as that being piloted for agricultural workers.
In December, the government’s white paper on migration outlined a skill-based migration policy, which would prioritise skilled and highly-skilled individuals. The Migration Advisory Committee recommended that a minimum salary threshold be set at £30,000 per year, however, this is still under discussion.
As reported in January, care organisations wrote to Home Secretary Sajid Javid regarding amendments to immigration rules ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU.
‘Witnesses in our inquiry, as well as other stakeholders, have expressed concern about how these thresholds might impact the workforce in sectors such as social care and construction, potentially compromising local authorities’ ability to deliver necessary services and meet homebuilding targets,’ the report said.
The committee set out ten recommendations to support local government to cope with the challenges of Brexit in the short term, including steps to address workforce shortages. It said EU nationals working in the UK should be made aware of and encouraged to apply for settled status.
Committee chair Clive Betts MP said: ‘Whatever form of Brexit is finally decided upon, local authorities will play a key role in ensuring as little disruption as possible to people’s day-to-day lives. They have the local knowledge and experience to identify likely problems and create workable solutions, yet the government is not giving them sufficient support to do this, nor is it adequately seeking their input to identify problems and inform their planning.’
Cllr Kevin Bentley, Local Government Association (LGA)’s Brexit taskforce chairman, said: ‘Councils are taking a lead on preparations for Brexit and are as prepared as they can be for Brexit given the uncertainty surrounding the process. There remain resource, information and advice gaps that councils are facing while helping their communities prepare.
‘While it is important to stress that business and communities are being well supported by councils as the nation prepares to leave the EU, the LGA continues to identify the issues which need to be addressed at a national level to ensure more effective local work.’
MHCLG has been contacted for comment.