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03/04/2019

Government must address short-term workforce shortages post-Brexit

Words: Laura Edgar
Housebuilding / iStock

The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee (HCLG) has said the government must address workforce shortages in the short term, including in the construction sector.

Brexit and Local Government also says that the government should make sure that EU nationals are made aware of and encouraged to apply for settled status.

The report sets out key policy actions that the government must take in the long term to tackle the loss of EU funding streams and to seize the opportunity Brexit presents to re-evaluate how funding and powers can be devolved to local government in order to create the best outcomes for communities.

Local government stakeholders have highlighted certain sectors as at risk of workforce shortages, particularly construction and social care, and the Ministry of Housing, Community and Local Government (MHCLG) should monitor such sectors. It can make representations to the Home Office in favour of immigration schemes with sector-specific workforce shortages criteria.

The committee recommends that, as a priority, MHCLG must “step up its liaison with local authorities that bear responsibility for a major port”. Where necessary, it should act on their behalf and make representations to other government departments, such as the Department for Transport (DfT) in order to address concerns about the immediate consequences of Brexit.

“Individual port councils should not be expected to use their reserves to adequately prepare for the immediate impact of Brexit, and additional central government funding should be provided where necessary to ensure these areas do not carry an unfair burden without adequate support.”

Chair of the HCLG committee, Clive Betts, 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.

“The government must provide adequate financial support and technical guidance to respond to emerging challenges … If they want to ensure that local authorities face the challenges and seize the opportunities of Brexit they cannot keep leaving them in the dark.”

Post-Brexit, the committee recommends that the government should clarify its plans for the further devolution of powers to local authorities. Its proposed new devolution framework should be published within one month of the UK leaving the European Union. That framework should include the potential for devolving various powers, including for housing and transport.

Brexit and Local Government can be found here on the UK Parliament website.

Image credit | iStock

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