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Home Office to assess EU workers

Home secretary Amber Rudd insists small businesses "will continue to attract" skilled foreign workers after the UK leaves the EU.

Ms Rudd reassured businesses there will be a transitional period when it comes to employing foreign workers in the UK after Brexit.

From March 2019, EU workers moving to the UK will have to register until a permanent post-Brexit immigration policy is implemented.

The home secretary has commissioned the migration advisory committee to consider the economic impact of EU workers in a bid to shape an evidence-based future migration policy.

Mike Cherry, chairman at the Federation of Small Businesses, said:

"Skills and labour from the EU play an important role in many small businesses, with 1 in 5 small employers having EU workers.

"The migration advisory committee needs to engage with the small business community to address the concerns of small employers and the self-employed."

However, the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) said businesses "urgently" need to know what any transitional period would look like after Brexit.

Josh Hardie, deputy director-general at the CBI, added:

"Given the importance of mobile skills and labour for the UK economy, firms will want the review to move at pace and include the views of all sectors."

Contact us to discuss how Brexit may affect you. 

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Businesses in favour of Brexit transition period

Almost half (46%) of companies believe a transition period of 3 years for Brexit would be best for their business.

The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) polled more than 2,400 businesses and found a further 22% of companies would like the transition process to exceed the 3-year period.

When asked about the key objectives for Brexit negotiations, just 34% of businesses said they would like to remain in the single market and customs union.

Furthermore, 28% said they would like a comprehensive free trade agreement and a customs agreement based on the government’s pre-election objectives.

Other findings:

  • 13% want to remain in the customs union only
  • 11% want access to single market only
  • 2% said to leave without a trade deal with the European Union.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general at the BCC, said:

“By more than 3 to 1, businesses want a transition period on the way to a final agreement with the European Union (EU). This is critical to prevent firms facing the prospect of repeated, costly adjustments to new trading conditions. 

“If companies have to change their business model once in 2019 [when the UK leaves the EU] and again several years thereafter, the competitiveness and investment potential of our firms will be undermined.

“Getting transition arrangements on the negotiations agenda as quickly as possible would give businesses – many of whom are considering big investment decisions now – the confidence to press ahead."

Contact us to discuss how Brexit could affect your business.

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Queen’s Speech 2017: key announcements

The Queen has announced the government legislation for the next 2 years as the UK prepares to leave the European Union (EU).

Legislation to deliver Brexit dominated the plans of the minority government, who want to build a “stronger economy” and promote “opportunity and aspiration”.

The following bills were included in the Queen’s Speech 2017:

Trade

  • legal framework to allow free trade deals with countries around the world and protect businesses from unfair trading practices.

Customs 

  • ensure the UK has a standalone post-Brexit customs regime
  • flexible future trade agreements with the EU
  • potential changes to the VAT and excise regimes on exit from the EU
  • control over the imports and exports of goods.

National insurance contributions 

  • commence changes to national insurance contributions (NICs) announced in Budget 2016 and Autumn Statement 2016
  • simplify the NICs system.

Data protection

  • ensure the data protection framework is suitable for the digital age
  • strengthen rights and empower individuals to have more control over their personal data
  • modernise and update the regime for data processing by law enforcement agencies.

Tenants’ fees

  • ban landlords and agents charging letting fees 
  • cap holding deposits at no more than 1 week’s rent and security deposits at no more than 1 month’s rent.

Dr Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“While Brexit isn’t the top immediate priority for many businesses, firms of every size and shape want to avoid turbulence and confusion during the Brexit transition. 

“The government’s proposed bills on trade, customs and immigration must minimise adjustment costs and maximise opportunities. 

“Achieving this will require continuous and constructive engagement with business communities across the UK.” 

Talk to us to discuss the Queen’s Speech 2017.

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Prioritise economy in Brexit talks, say business bodies

Leading business groups have called on the government to put “the economy first” as the UK begins Brexit negotiations with the European Union (EU) in Brussels today.

The letter is signed by the British Chambers of Commerce, Confederation of British Industry, the Institute of Directors, the EEF and the Federation of Small Businesses. 

The group calls for the final agreement to be ”a deal that supports growth”, which will allow companies to hire more people, raise living standards and improve lives across the country.

The following economic principles are being put forward: 

  • maintain the economic benefits of the single market and customs union
  • prioritise an agreement for EU citizens to remain in the UK
  • tariff-free goods trade between the UK and the EU
  • minimal customs formalities at the land, sea and air borders with the EU
  • mutual recognition and access for both goods and services
  • flexible system for the movement of labour and skills
  • ongoing participation on pan-European programmes initiatives
  • benefits and protection of free trade agreements.

The business leaders’ statement read:

“We have come together to urge the government to put the economy first as it prepares to start formal negotiations on the UK’s departure from the European Union. 

“This is a deal that when finally agreed will matter fundamentally for the UK economy, for UK companies and for citizens of the UK.”

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Firms ‘unprepared’ for post-Brexit labour market

Almost half of businesses (47%) have unrealistic expectations on the post-Brexit immigration system, according to a study.

The Resolution Foundation surveyed 503 companies who employ EU workers and found only 17% expect no change to the current immigration system, while 30% expect the current system to be retained for EU nationals offered jobs in the UK.

Furthermore, 46% do not see any changes in the number of EU workers recruited for their business over the next 12 months. Britain is due to exit the EU at the end of March 2019.

24% expect to increase the number of migrant workers they employ, whereas 26% may see a decrease in the number of staff they employ from the EU.

Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation, said:

“It’s not just government that needs to step up preparation for Brexit. Many British firms are totally unprepared for this change, particularly when it comes to migration.

“Now is the time for both firms and government to focus on how we navigate that journey and the changes to our labour market it brings.”

Talk to us about how Brexit may affect your business.