By Tony Earnshaw Local Democracy Reporter
BREXIT preparations are progressing apace in Kirklees – even though no-one yet knows what the fine detail will be around how the UK leaves the EU.
Meanwhile there are concerns for the future of businesses, jobs and workers, including migrants.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK’s Brexit deadline will be January 31.
That means local authorities across the nation are tasked with preparing for life outside the European Union, with a focus on how that will affect their specific areas.
But one senior Kirklees councillor has cautioned that whilst preparations are on-going there is a “fog” around the detail of Brexit that will only clear in the months ahead.
Kirklees Council set up a Brexit Tactical Group “to fulfil its role of ensuring an appropriate level of preparedness for the withdrawal, encompassing likely scenarios following the UK’s exit from the EU with a particular focus on supporting vulnerable people.”
The team has authored a report that anticipates the various possible impacts of Brexit on the Kirklees economy.
However it warns that “there is no way to judge the true impact on any given sector” as the extent of regulatory changes or levels of agreed tariffs are yet to be determined.
The report shows approximately 13,000 EU workers in Kirklees as of December 2019, with around a third having applied for settled status.
Many workers are in low-skilled jobs, with 47 per cent in elementary process plant occupations such as packing.
It identified 79 companies in Kirklees that are subsidiaries of EU-based parent companies with five groups accounting for more than 3,000 employees and a turnover of £475m.
In Kirklees there are 19 businesses that have EU-based subsidiaries, all of which are subsidiaries of larger parent companies, of which four are also EU-based.
The report said: “This latter group presents a particular risk of suffering restructuring for logistical or tax reasons, which could place jobs at risk.”
Up to 10 per cent of social care workers in Kirklees are EU citizens.
Concern has been expressed that earnings post-Brexit will be “far below” the potential minimum threshold.
Coun Graham Turner, the council’s political lead on Brexit, said officers would be working on the authority’s plan throughout the coming year.