Council eyes the cost of Brexit in impact report

PUBLISHED: 10:14 20 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:36 20 August 2018

Herts County Council considered the impact of Brexit in a recent report. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Herts County Council considered the impact of Brexit in a recent report. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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County council officers have been pondering the impacts of Brexit on Hertfordshire’s economy, finances and workforce.

Their report “Implications of the United Kingdom’s Withdrawal from the European Union”, updates an earlier paper from October 2016 looking at the consequences for Hertfordshire.

Although the UK’s official Brexit leaving date is just seven months away, the report states that “many of its implications [are] yet to become clear”.

After March 29, 2019, the UK will enter into a transition phase until December 31 2020.

The report noted that central government will have “limited capacity” to work on anything else in the next five to 10 years.

One of the key issues raised by the report comes from the fact that nearly half of Hertfordshire’s exports (49.8 per cent) go to the EU, as well as 62.7 per cent of our imports.

The main areas of export include medicine and pharmaceuticals, such as Roche in WGC, power generation machinery, and air, rail, space and military transport such as Airbus in Stevenage.

But the impact of Brexit uncertainty is also hitting the workforce at all levels.

Small to medium enterprises (SMEs) spoke out at a Business Forum meeting about their worries about workforce.

Although in 2011 only 5.74 per cent of Hertfordshire’s workforce were EU nationals increases in immigration suggest that the number is now much larger.

These workers cluster around numerous industries, particularly in food, hospitality, care, fruit picking, and warehouse work.

The potential loss of these workers if free movement is clamped down on is making SMEs “increasingly reluctant to plan for growth”.

There are also questions around how we will replace Hertfordshire’s £55.3million in European Structural and Investment Funds after 2020.

The government will release details of its proposed replacement, the Shared Prosperity Fund, in the autumn.

However, the report also stated automation of manual jobs may well be an even bigger worry than Brexit.

In addition, withdrawing from the Common Agricultural Policy “could affect the way land is managed in rural Hertfordshire” - but, as with so much else, “the specifics are not yet known”.

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