Agenda item

UPDATE ON BRADFORD COUNCIL'S PREPARATIONS FOR BREXIT

A report will be submitted (Document “V”) that provides an assessment on the latest position of our businesses, residents and service providers in preparing for Brexit.

 

Due to committee reporting deadlines, this version of the report was prepared on the 25 September and is up to date at the time of writing.  Please note that given the rapidly changing context of Brexit, it is possible that this report may not be fully up to date with external events at the time of the Executive Committee.

 

The Government is committed to leaving the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal. Bradford Council’s preparations are aimed at ensuring that services, residents, businesses and partners are supported through Brexit. This preparation continues to follow the key themes and actions outlined in the Brexit Preparedness Report approved by Executive on the 5 March 2019. 

 

The Government has also issued a further £104,000 to support Local Authorities to prepare for Brexit. 

 

This report recommends that this money be held in readiness to deploy to cover eventualities which the Council may need to react to over the coming weeks in this fast changing environment.

 

Recommended –

 

That the additional £104,000, awarded by Government in August 2019 to help with Brexit preparations, be held in readiness to deploy to cover eventualities which the Council may need to react to over the coming weeks in this fast changing environment.

 

 

(Corporate/All Overview & Scrutiny Committees)

                                                                               (Phil Witcherley – 01274 431241)

Minutes:

A report was submitted (Document “V”) that provided an assessment on the latest position of our businesses, residents and service providers in preparing for Brexit.  It was noted that the report was prepared on the 25 September and was up to date at the time of writing.

 

The Government was committed to leaving the EU on 31 October, with or without a deal. Bradford Council’s preparations were aimed at ensuring that services, residents, businesses and partners were supported through Brexit. This preparation continued to follow the key themes and actions outlined in the Brexit Preparedness Report approved by Executive on the 5 March 2019. 

 

The Government had also issued a further £104,000 to support the Council to prepare for Brexit.  The report recommended that this money be held in readiness to deploy to cover eventualities which the Council may need to react to over the coming weeks in this fast changing environment.

 

Members were advised that the Strategic Director of Corporate Resources had been identified as Brexit Lead Officer to act as a link to national Government and co-ordinate all Brexit preparations at a District level.

 

The Head of Policy and Performance  reported that 5,270 of the 37,000 EU citizens living in the District had applied for Settled or Pre-Settled Status.  He added that local social care providers had been surveyed to assess their readiness for Brexit and that 84% of those providers that had replied employed less than 10% of their staff from EU nationalities. 

 

The Leader underlined the importance of planning in such uncertain times.  She stressed that EU citizens living in the District were welcome and that there was a need to ensure that they stayed and contributed to the economy of the District.  The Neighbourhoods and Community Safety Portfolio Holder reiterated that EU citizens living in Bradford were valued but noted that a significant number had not yet applied for Settled Status and gave an assurance that they would be supported in this process.  The Head of Policy and Performance acknowledged that this was a high priority and commented that the Authority was working with partner organisations regarding vulnerable groups and Settled Status.  Particular issues faced by vulnerable residents were being raised with the Home Office and different methods of communication were being rolled out.

 

The Stronger Communities Delivery Co-ordinator advised members that the Authority supported VCS organisations working as community hubs offering support and guidance on the EU Settlement Scheme.  He added that funds had been made available to gain level 1 advice worker status at these centres.  He noted that all leaflets and posters were available on the Council web site.  He explained that families in the West Bowling area were being visited in their homes, organisations were visiting factories in Keighley and the Authority was working through schools to reach parents to provide advice and guidance on Settled Status.  He reported that the Roma community had been identified as the group most likely to require more intensive support but noted that that there were fewer groups that provided this higher level of advice.  It was acknowledged that the support provided in this District had been recognised nationally.

 

The Leader noted that if there was a hard Brexit at the end of October there would be an increase in demand for services and that finance could be directed to areas of most need.

 

The Children and Families Portfolio Holder asked about the 84 looked after children in the District who could apply for settled status and for whom the Council has a statutory responsibility.  In response he was advised that the Authority had a statutory duty to ensure that looked after children  had settled status and that the Government would allocate additional finance for the purpose but that the exact amount was not known at this time.  The deadline to obtain settled status was by the end of December 2020 if there was a no deal Brexit, and summer 2021 if there was a deal.  The Portfolio Holder would be kept up to date on progress in this regard.

 

The Healthy People and Places Portfolio Holder asked a question regarding the vulnerability of the health and social care workforce to loss of EU staff.  In response it was noted that only 3% of the social care workforce in the District were EU nationals as compared to 6% nationally.  An assurance was given that the provision of food for care homes and schools was secure.  She also asked about the continued supply of medicines and was informed that the NHS had confirmed that if behaviour  remained as at present, then the supply of medicines should continue.  The NHS advice was not to stock pile medicines.  Emergency powers were in place to give priority to medicines that were being imported, most of which came through the port of Dover.

 

The Regeneration, Planning and Transport Portfolio Holder stressed the importance of the Get Ready for Brexit campaign and the need for businesses to engage and make preparations.

 

Reference was made to the delay in consultations on the Shared Prosperity Fund which had been raised with Government on a number of occasions. 

 

 

Resolved –

 

(1)          That the additional £104,000, awarded by Government in August 2019 to help with Brexit preparations, be held in readiness to deploy to cover eventualities which the Council may need to react to over the coming weeks in this fast changing environment.

 

(2)          That each Portfolio Holder be kept updated on the areas of concern expressed at the meeting.

 

(3)          That a further report be presented to the Executive following Brexit.

 

ACTION: Chief Executive

Corporate/All Overview & Scrutiny Committees

                                                                                                                                          

 

Supporting documents: