Businesses welcome post-Brexit plan for EU nationals

Business groups have welcomed the assurances offered to 3.8 million EU27 nationals resident in the UK in the government proposals to give them settled status once the nation leaves the bloc.

Houses of Parliament with an EU flag flying
The Home Office announced a “simple” online scheme under which the Europeans will be able to register to remain permanently in Britain once Brexit is complete.

Business reaction on European expats’ right to remain

Matthew Fell, chief UK policy director at the Confederation of British Industry, said, “Businesses want to help their EU staff navigate the process to stay in the UK and welcome this clarity around the future rules.“It is absolutely right that the Home Office’s default is to look for reasons to grant, rather than deny, applications and ensure caseworkers have the necessary flexibility to exercise discretion when considering EU national’s individual circumstances.“Now the Home Office must match these words with delivery of an efficient and smooth process. It is also time to confirm that this offer to EU citizens is independent of wider negotiations and that it will not be taken off the table altogether in the event of ‘no deal’.”The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said the settled status scheme would be welcomed by both employees and employers.“It provides clear information on the status of EU nationals resident in the UK and those who arrive during the transition period after March next year. We know that some businesses lost European employees in the aftermath of the referendum, owing to the uncertainty they faced, so assurances that they can stay are a positive step forward,” said the BCC.“The next step is for the draft rules to be laid before parliament and we urge all parliamentarians to ensure this stage is concluded swiftly.“We look forward to working with the Home Office to ensure greater clarity on this and other areas in the long term.”
Related stories:For more related news and features, visit our Brexit section.  

Concerns from the Federation of Small Businesses

Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, also welcomed the government’s plans but expressed concerns over the cost of the scheme, which will cost £65 per adult to register.“One in five of our smaller business employers have at least one EU worker so it’s absolutely essential they have the choice of applying for ‘settled status’ as soon as possible,” he said.“It is imperative, however, that government ensures that the new scheme is affordable for all who wish to stay and work in the UK. Special attention will be needed for those on low incomes, including workers and the self-employed.“To avoid disruption, small firms need the application process to be as straightforward as possible so it doesn’t place disproportionate burdens on either workers or employer. Of course smaller employers will naturally want to support their EU staff and their families and so it’s essential that an employer toolkit is designed which works for smaller businesses.”

Reaction from political groups

The3million group, which campaigns on behalf of EU citizens in the UK, urged the Home Office to reconsider its plan to charge people registering under the scheme. “If the government is really committed, it should remove all barriers including fees,” said Nicolas Hatton, the group’s founder. “The (government’s) statement will give hope to many EU citizens, but questions remain whether the Home Office will have the capacity to change the hostile environment culture to a welcoming approach.” Alp Mehmet, vice chairman of the Eurosceptic group, Migration Watch UK, said, “The government seem to have conceded almost every point demanded by the EU. Meanwhile, there is very little evidence that EU member states have done anything to speak of for British residents in their countries.”Jill Rutter, director of strategy at the British Future think-tank, said that the government faced a “massive task” of registering all EU27 nationals. “It’s important that the Home Secretary sends a very clear message that the central purpose of this policy is for everybody eligible to qualify, so they can get on with their lives in the UK,” she said.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory