A shortage of workers is already affecting every sector in Gloucestershire, from social care to farming and food production, delegates heard at a key event to discuss the impact of Brexit on the county and beyond.David Drew MP for Stroud and Clare Moody MEP for the South West and Gibraltar.
Delegates spoke of how Brexit is already having an impact and looked at ways to plan for the future.
The lack of labour is already starting to affect businesses and uncertainty is making it harder for them to plan ahead, said the speakers.Green Gourmet Foods.
This event saw around 100 people gather at the New Lawn Stadium for the summit, supported by Business West and the S+D Group in the European Parliament.
William Fraser, National Farmers Union county advisor for Gloucestershire said farmers were already reporting a deficit in labour which was increasing every quarter.
“Long term confidence of farmers has never been lower. There is huge uncertainty for them. But they can’t afford to take risks when they don’t know what support regime will be around. The biggest single issue it access to labour force. This is an issue here and now farms are under staffed with not enough people on the ground to allow these businesses to function.”
“Our concern is the lack of detail we’ve seen so far. It’s been 18 months to pull some form of policy together on the future of agriculture and farming. The detail has been lacking and we still have an awful lot of work ahead of us to get operational plans together which will allow businesses to carry on investing with confidence.
Kelly Andrews of GMB said; “The UK government should make a commitment that UK legislation on workers’ rights never falls behind EU legislation. Any future trade deals must protect public services.”
“Europe is such an important market particularly for small firms. What we are seeing is a government imposing significant friction for our export market yet hasn’t conveyed what that means and how companies can adapt,” he said.
“Companies are worried and not ready, and are worried about their supply chain, and are unsure what are they supposed to be preparing for.”
Adam Starkey of Green Gourmet Foods said: “Brexit has accelerated the drive towards automation and the robotics industry. There will be winners in this, particularly if we can develop that industry and expertise in Gloucestershire.”
Clare Moody MEP, said: “This isn’t about remain or leave any more, this is about Gloucestershire being as best prepared as possible for Brexit. Sadly the impact is already here, with all our speakers reporting staffing shortages and uncertainty for the future. I was pleased to see so many delegates at FGR and the diversity of views.”
Gloucestershire County Council is facing the same challenges.
Lesley Williams, leader of the Labour group at Gloucestershire County Council said; “We are beginning to notice that it’s difficult to find people to work in the care sector. Here in Gloucestershire the majority of our adult care services are contracted out and we are getting reports that organisations we work with to provide care are finding it difficult to recruit staff.
“Here in Gloucestershire we have a mixture of rural and urban areas, and it’s even harder to recruit in rural areas.”
We take your data very seriously and are committed to the privacy and security of it. Our Privacy Statement, available at www.businesswest.co.uk/privacy, explains the types of personal data we may collect about you and how we’ll store and handle that data, and keep it safe. This service is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), and your data will be shared with them. Their privacy notice is available at Personal information charter - BEIS
Where you provide personal data to us, it is essential that you have the right to give us that personal data, and to allow us to use it as anticipated by the arrangements between us. This includes where the personal data that you are providing relates to people other than yourself. We will rely on you to make sure that you do have those rights.