Sunday 25 November 2018

Who's going to collect our rubbish after Brexit? Brent Council to call for 'People's Vote'

Of course it is much more than rubbosh collection, Monday's Brent Council meeting are going to debate a report commissioned by the last Full Council on the impact of Brexit on the borough. The full report is available HERE.

It is hard to predict what our EU citizens will do post-Brexit and a lot will depend on the post-Brexit environment and the level of hostility they experience, as well as the future performance of the UK economy and that of their home countries.

Main points:
Leaving the EU will impact Brent, not least because it has the second highest number of European residents in London. Much of its public sector and construction workforce comprise European citizens. The EU settlement scheme offers EU citizens the same rights as they currently enjoy, and is likely to be taken up by our current residents ensuring their continued presence. EU citizens who want to leave due to Brexit are likely to have already left. This theory is borne out in the dip in reception and year one school places required. 
Brent has the second highest estimated number of European residents in London comprising a fifth (22%) of its whole population. European residents who come to the UK to work have to apply for a National Insurance number. These applications have been falling steadily since 2014, across London, and saw a sharp decline last year. Since the Brexit vote, the government have introduced the EU settlement scheme, which gives European residents who register, the same rights as they currently enjoy. It is likely that with the introduction of this scheme, current European residents will remain in Brent until they would naturally move on. 

Around 10% of Brent Council employees are originally from the EU. The proportion varies by department and service area with some service areas having one or two staff, increasing to around 20% in others. Customer Services, and CYP have the highest proportion of employees from the EU. It is worth noting that although employees may be from the EU, many have become British Citizens, or have indefinite leave to remain. 
Brent also has a number of contracts with large companies, including with Veolia, who provide the waste and recycling service for Brent. Over half (52%) of the Veolia workforce, and around 70% of its agency staff are from EU countries, and despite paying the London Living Wage, they anticipate it being difficult to attract workers should this source of labour lessen. Although details around migration policies is unknown, it is expected for unskilled labourers to be discouraged from coming to the UK. Currently, the contract comes to an end in March 2023, and the new contract will be commissioned at the height of post-Brexit uncertainty.
27% of London’s construction workforce comes from the EU. Both the Chequers plan, and no deal restrict free movement of labour and could result in a skills shortage in the construction industry as well as pressure on wages, causing construction firms to face higher project costs and reduce current turnovers. 
There are two hospitals in Brent, Northwick Park and Central Middlesex Hospital. In the NHS in North West London, 7% of all staff are European. This ranges from less than 1% of qualified ambulance staff, to 10% of doctors (including locums). A report by Mercer found that one in three doctors in the UK hope to retire by 2020. Our older population, aged 65 and over is expected to increase by one third over the next ten years, so the demand on our medical services will increase. Staffing shortages is a real problem for the NHS nationwide, and plans need to be made both locally, and nationally to attract more young people to the field. 
Schools in Brent have a large proportion of EU students, which reflects the local community. Last year there was a dip in the number of school places required for reception and year one. The school place projections suggest that this dip will last for a few years, and then numbers will rise again. The falling demographics are caused by different reasons, including a reduction in migration as people are choosing not to come to Brent. The number of pupils that qualify for the English as an Additional Language (EAL) measure in reception and year one has fallen by nearly 10%. 
Although schools are responsible for their own budgets, and managing their staff, the council is working with schools adversely affected by the drop in pupil numbers, putting plans in place to mitigate the financial risks associated with changing pupil numbers for example agreeing short-term caps on admission numbers.

Cllr Neil Nerva wil be moving h following motion on behalf of the Labour Group:

Motion for a People’s Vote

This Council notes:

It is now twenty-eight months since the referendum in which 72,523 Brent residents voted by a clear majority, to maintain the current benefits Britons enjoy, by staying in the European Union.
In the months since, the “Vote Leave” campaign has been fined by the Electoral Commission, and, the Chancellor has conceded that leaving the EU without a deal would blast an £80bn black hole in the creaking public finances. 
Those that voted to leave, did not vote to be poorer. But it is some of our poorest residents that will be hardest hit; with a squeeze in living standards brought on by increased inflation and the depreciation of the pound. 
That, despite promises to the contrary, Government engagement of local political leaders has been virtually non-existent.    That the London Assembly, the neighbouring boroughs of Camden, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham have all passed motions that back a “People’s Vote” on the final deal and an option to stay within the European Union.

This Council believes:

That Brent is better off together. And put simply, we are a global borough, united in opposition to any form of Brexit that has deleterious effects on our residents. 
That leaving the EU will disproportionately impact Brent, not least because Brent has the second highest number of European residents in London. Moreover, many of the public services our residents rely upon, from their GP to their waste collection, are provided by dedicated European citizens. 
That any deal which undermines the principles of the hard-fought “Good Friday Agreement” should face wholesale rejection. 
It is evident that a calamitous Brexit will hurt all but the very richest, and that it will be our children, for the first time, poorer, less prosperous, with fewer opportunities than the generation before. With this in mind, this Council resolves to: 

Voice its concern against any arrangement that damages the rights or prospects of EU nationals in this proudly diverse borough. 
Work with organisations representing EU nationals to help address the uncertainty that this careless Government has left in its wake.
To liaise with local businesses, public sector partners, trade unions and our colleagues at the West London Alliance to ensure that Brent remains open for business throughout any transition period. 
Call upon Parliament to entrust the British people with a meaningful vote on the final deal; with options to remain in the European Union upon the ballot paper. 


Unknown said...

The call by Councillor Nerva for a Peoples Vote is welcomed. Hopefully people like Labour MP Barry Gardiner will at long last stand up for Brent residents on this important issue and recognise that any form of Brexit will harm the majority of his constituents.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Martin.

There is also the prospective impact of Brexit on social care provision, as instanced at

Alan Wheatley