Will A Lack Of EU Workers Damage The UK Economy?

As EU workers continue to leave the UK in the run up to Brexit, businesses have warned that they are already starting to suffer from a lack of staff. A survey of 1600 companies across the UK has found growing concern over the impact of the loss of EU nationals living and working in the UK, and the potential problems it could cause in the long term.

Aside from the NHS, who’ve already warned of the dangers to the public of losing EU nurses and doctors, it’s feared that the hospitality industry could suffer the most and could result in business closures across the country. There have also been indications that some manufacturing firms are considering moving their operations overseas in order to find the number of staff required to function adequately.

In addition, the construction, social care and agriculture industries are particularly reliant on EU workers, so a reduction in immigration is likely to result in higher prices in some cases or even a disruption of supply. The disruption of the construction industry would be highly detrimental to the government and the public, considering the recent push for new house building across the country.

The BCC has urged the government to provide an “unconditional guarantee” to workers from the European Economic Area, including all EU states “that they and their families can remain here post Brexit”. It says that in order to provide stability, access to EEA and EU workers should remain throughout the transition period  “at all skills levels, without additional costs or restrictions, and these workers should be allowed to remain in the UK at the end of the transition period”.

The BCC also found in a survey that 48% of businesses are already suffering skill shortages, and that in light of this any future immigration set-up “should reflect the importance of low-skilled labour to UK businesses and include a flexible route for businesses to access EEA low-skilled workers on a permanent and seasonal basis”, and not just the highly skilled as suggested by the government.

With the Office for National Statistics reporting a substantial fall in the number of EU workers already, are businesses right to worry about the future implications of the UK leaving the union? And what does it mean for both the economy and for domestic living standards in the UK?

Research released earlier in the year has suggested that the loss of migration from the rest of the EU will have a negative impact on the UK’s GDP per capita, which could be as damaging as the impact on Britain’s loss of trade. Experts agree that EU migrants have been financially beneficial to the economy, as the loss of working age immigrants is likely to put a strain on the UK economy.

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