Agenda item


The council has invited expert witnesses to discuss and give evidence on how they envisage Brexit will affect communities and EU residents rights in Southwark:


Patria Roman, Latin Elephant

Carlos Naranjo, Director of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce

Gordon McCullough, CEO of Community Southwark

Sally Causer,  Southwark Law Centre

Ruth Budge, Southwark Law Centre


This item was moved up the agenda running order.


The following participants spoke about Brexit and its affect on communities and EU residents rights in Southwark.


Patria Roman, Latin Elephant

Carlos Naranjo, Director of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce

Gordon McCullough, CEO of Community Southwark Council

Sally Causer, Southwark Law Centre

Ruth Budge, Southwark Law Centre

Isaac Bigio, Iberian American Alliance in the UK


Following initial statements from each presenter there was a discussion of issues with members of the panel.


Below is a summary of the issues discussed in the evidence sessions:


Business and Employment


·  Employers are facing uncertainty over Brexit which is bad for business.

·  While larger businesses may be putting contingency plans in place, SMEs in particular may need additional support, as they feel powerless to plan.

·  The Southwark Business Forum has consulted members and a strong theme coming out of this consultation was the importance of championing inclusion and diversity as a rebuttal to hate crimes and hostility.

·  An additional consideration in Southwark is the impact of Brexit on Latin American businesses – the Latin Quarter has almost 200 small businesses and Brexit has created insecurity for many of those businesses and their employees, many of whom have EU passports. 

·  Businesses generally are in agreement that they are unable to predict what will happen and are hoping to minimise any surprises.


Communities/EU residents’ rights


·  Southwark has a significant Latin American population and many Latin American residents in the borough have EU passports and therefore will be directly affected by Brexit in terms of their status to live and work in the UK. Elephant and Castle is a particular hub for Latin American businesses.

·  According to expert witnesses, many Latin American residents work in cleaning services with 11% earning less than the National Living Wage and 70% earning less than the London Living Wage.

·  Witnesses raised concerns about the vulnerability of some Latin American residents, particularly those who are unable to speak English, working in precarious conditions or with uncertain immigration status.

·  EU citizens still face significant uncertainty about their rights and status following Brexit, particularly in the event of leaving the EU without a deal, and the process for the government’s settled status scheme is still unclear.

·  Like many areas, Southwark saw an increase in hate crime following the EU referendum result and witnesses highlighted the importance of continuing to monitor this.

·  As well as EU citizens rights, there is significant uncertainty about funding for the voluntary and community sector following Brexit. Some projects supporting vulnerable people are EU funded and the future of that funding beyond March 2019 is unclear. A high proportion of people working in the charitable sector in London are from the EE area.

·  There are significant concerns around vulnerable groups whose rights will be affected by Brexit but who may not be aware of the steps they will need to take, including some elderly and disabled people, those who do not speak English and children in care. Some people may struggle to navigate the process, including through digital and financial barriers, and legal aid will not usually be available to support those individuals.

·  Southwark Council does not record the nationality of employees, but like most London local authorities the council workforce is likely to be significantly impacted by Brexit and the council has been taking steps to raise awareness amongst staff and working closely with trade unions.

·  Community groups highlighted the importance of having the right information easily available for residents to inform and reassure people in this time of uncertainty.


Southwark Council


·  As an employer the council does not differentiate between UK and EU workforce – data has only been collected since the EU referendum.

·  The council is working to raise awareness amongst staff and is working closely with trade unions.

·  The council has concerns about workforce shortages particularly in social care, construction and IT and is monitoring skills shortages.

·  In terms of community cohesion, the council is visibly encouraging inclusion and is a zero-tolerance employer when it comes to intolerance/hate crime.

Supporting documents: