The commission's findings

The key findings of the Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission are outlined below, divided into the three themes that guided its work.

Local economy

  • The economic impact in any scenario would be unevenly distributed across the borough due to the distinct characteristics and demographics of each local area.
  • There is a high risk of skills shortages in certain sectors; however that also presents an opportunity for local people to fill vacancies created. A review of existing skills training programmes is required to ensure that the offer is matched to employers’ existing and future needs.
  • The borough’s economy is less exposed to trade in goods than it is to services. However, some businesses may still experience impacts on their supply chains. Impacts felt by the financial services sector are also likely to have consequences across the borough due to the number of local companies that support its work.
  • House building and the construction sector more widely have already reacted to Brexit related uncertainty with a slow-down in delivery. A continued lack of clarity would likely see that trend continue.
  • While larger companies have recognised the need to plan for Brexit, the same realisation has not taken place among many small and medium sized businesses. In particular, there has been insufficient planning for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

The local economy findings contained in this report were informed, in part, by a piece of commissioned research carried out by Capital Economics. A comprehensive summary of their research is available online.

Public services

  • Restrictions on the mobility of talent in higher education will present significant challenges for the recruitment and retention of research staff and students.
  • Public sector programmes that have previously been delivered with the support of EU funding will face an uncertain future. With similar losses being felt in the voluntary and community sectors, any replacement funds made available are unlikely to be sufficient to replicate current funding arrangements.
  • Demand for public services, across multiple sectors, is increasing. Should the financial implications of Brexit mean that public sector funding is placed under greater strain, there is a risk that the increasing demand for services will not be met.
  • Some parts of the public sector, for example the delivery of adult social care services, have been particularly reliant on EU staff in recent years. Uncertainty around Brexit could lead to challenges with recruitment and retention and ultimately, the quality and scope of service delivery.

Civil society

  • Some non-UK EU citizens are yet to make the connection between Brexit and the need to secure their individual rights. This lack of awareness is compounded by a lack of assistance and advice available, from government, to non-UK EU citizens.
  • There is a concern that changes to immigration, employment and settlement rights could lead to greater discrimination against EU residents. The ‘leave’ vote created the perception of a permissive space where hate crime, not only targeted at non-UK EU citizens, increased.
  • EU funding has been a significant enabler for a number of charities and voluntary groups in Tower Hamlets and they are struggling to plan given the current uncertainty around future levels of financial support.
  • Brexit has already started to have a negative impact on the voluntary and community sectors’ ability to recruit and retain paid staff and volunteers.


Read the Tower Hamlets Brexit Commission report. 

Read the commission's recommendations.