Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission warns of future funding and skills shortages unless Government acts

LBTH Brexit Commission, John Biggs -2

A report into the impact of Brexit in one of London’s most diverse and economically significant boroughs has warned that millions in vital funding for frontline programmes could be lost as a result of Brexit.

The Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission was established by the borough’s Mayor, John Biggs, in September last year to examine how the area would be affected by the what is expected to be the single biggest social and economic shift for a generation.

Mayor Biggs said: “Tower Hamlets is one of London’s youngest and fastest growing boroughs with an economy that contributes more to the UK than all but two other local authority areas. The findings of our Brexit Commission will apply not only here, but in communities right across the country.

“The council has taken a lead in ensuring that our borough is ready to absorb the impacts and seize the opportunities associated with Brexit. This report gives us the platform, backed up by the evidence gathered over four months of detailed engagement, to continue to deliver those objectives.

“The East End has a proud history of adapting to change and demonstrating its resilience in the face of great upheaval. I’m confident that by working together with our public sector partners, with businesses and with other councils across London, we can navigate the challenges of Brexit with that same determination to succeed.”

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan added: “I welcome this excellent report by the Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission. I’d like to thank the council and all the experts on the panel for their hard work.

“The commission has produced a detailed piece of work that examines the damaging impact Brexit could have on the local economy, local residents and the delivery of public services.

“I share many of the concerns that the commission has raised such as the proposed salary threshold for skilled workers - which would not only hit economic growth but could leave our public services understaffed.”

The Brexit Commission was chaired by Councillor Amina Ali, the council’s cabinet member for Brexit. She led a panel of distinguished commissioners including Professor Tony Travers (LSE School of Government), Howard Dawber (Managing Director for Strategy at Canary Wharf Group), Sue Terpilowski (London Policy Chair for the Federation of Small Businesses) and Michael Pantlin (Director of People at Barts NHS Trust).

Their work was focused around a series of select committee style hearings which saw expert witnesses from organisations across Tower Hamlets outline how Brexit was expected to impact their sectors and answer probing questions from the commissioner panel.

The report published this morning (14 February 2019) is the culmination of that work. It identifies 13 key findings and makes 24 recommendations.

Cllr Amina Ali said: “Our residents have benefitted from millions of pounds of EU funding in recent years and we know that the community and voluntary sector is struggling to plan in the face of significant financial uncertainty. We will be working closely with our neighbouring boroughs, and with the Mayor of London, to lobby Government to ensure it puts like-for-like financial support at the heart of its post-Brexit plans.

“We have also heard from businesses that are anticipating significant skills gaps in their sectors as a result of EU citizens choosing to return to their home countries rather than continue to face the challenges of life in the UK after the referendum.

“Tower Hamlets is home to more than 41,000 EU citizens and we are doing all we can to reassure them and encourage them to stay. But where opportunities do emerge in changing job markets, we are calling on businesses to work with us to identify the steps that need to be taken to ensure that it is local people who can acquire the skills to fill those vacancies.

“These are just a few of the 24 recommendations that will form the basis for our intensive partnership working as we prepare to tackle the effects of Brexit in our borough.”

  • A copy of the Brexit Commission report is available online.
  • A full list of the 13 key findings is available online.
  • A full list of the 24 recommendations is available online.


Posted on Thursday 14th February 2019