Economic worries facing West Midlands as Brexit looms
A new report has identified the loss of funding for local government from the European Union and a shortage of social care nurses as key concerns for the West Midlands if Brexit is implemented.
The economic and social impact of Brexit on the West Midlands has been assessed by the West Midlands Economic Forum, based in Aldridge, for Birmingham City Council.
With Britain currently poised to leave the European Union on March 29 the research identifies trade, jobs, business, funding and the pubic sector as the five key areas to be affected in the region.
Deputy leader of the city council, Councillor Brigid Jones said the report was intended to help businesses and public sector bodies plan ahead.
The forum was asked to look at potential impact on trade and business, employment, funding, infrastructure and public services.
"The West Midlands has a bigger population than nine member states including Finland, Slovakia and Ireland. The economic output of the West Midlands is bigger than 13 member states including the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania. The significance of our presence and the importance of Brexit working for this region is clear," said Councillor Jones.
She added that any Brexit conditions that might add to funding problems for local government or add to levels of poverty in the region must be met with increased devolved funding from national government.
"Leaders across the West Midlands are clear that our leaving the EU does not correlate to a withdrawal from open collaboration with cities and regions across Europe or the rest of the world," she stressed.
The report suggests there is the potential for a reduction of up to 13 per cent in the regional economy from Brexit which may possibly lead to an increase in pressure on local authority services.
On trade a major concern is how changes to customs arrangements, tariffs and regulations will affect the regional economy, particularly advanced manufacturing.
There is also a worry about what Brexit will mean for continued investment into transport infrastructure, broadband, housing and business investment, given the need to sustain international competitiveness.
Employment sectors considered particularly vulnerable to Brexit, include automotive and those in its the wider supply chain.
The automotive sector is of particular concern for the region, given that only 40 per cent of components are sourced locally which makes it vulnerable to supply interruptions and delays.
Health and social care are also sectors of concern, with one in 10 social care nurses currently being EU nationals.
Birmingham alone has benefitted from over £1 billion in EU funding and the loss of this resource is considered to have an impact on key priorities for local government such as skills training.
With the West Midlands more export-oriented than other parts of the country – 40 per cent of regional merchandise exports are to EU destinations _ it is considered essential the region has formal input into future trade negotiations.
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