Town halls told to intensify Brexit planning

1 Feb 19

The local government secretary has instructed councils to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

James Brokenshire has advised them that it is “essential you are all undertaking the necessary local planning and preparations” if there is a failure to reach agreement with the European Union on the terms of the UK’s withdrawal.

In a letter to all local authority leaders in England, he said the government “remains focused on securing a deal with the EU” but added that it is “responsible and prudent” to prepare for a potential no-deal scenario.

“Cabinet recently discussed this point and has agreed that we must step up our no-deal preparations,” he said.

Brokenshire, who this week allocated a further £21.5m to councils to plan for Brexit, also warned of “heightened community tensions” and urged councils to clarify plans to deal with this, according to reports in The Independent.

Evidence of the letter was also circulated on Twitter:

 

 

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA chief executive, warned this week that while additional funds for councils were welcome, without certainty about a withdrawal deal it will be “near impossible” to make preparations.  

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government had initially received a total of £35m to prepare for Brexit – just half of what it had requested, according to Clive Betts.

Brokenshire said that local authorities will get a checklist “identifying and prioritising the actions you need to take” in relation to no-deal planning.

Council leaders have an important role to play in providing “timely updates, for example, in relation to promoting the UK Settled Status Scheme or advice to local businesses,” he said.

The settled status scheme opens fully on 30 March 2019 and allows EU citizens to apply for the right to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.

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