Opportunities for Kent after Brexit
12 December 2016
Brexit could offer Kent and Medway the opportunity to succeed financially and improve services for the benefit of all its residents, but only if its specific regional needs are heard by the Government, according to a report launched today.
The report, entitled Kent and Medway: Making a Success of Brexit - a Sectoral Appraisal, produced by Canterbury Christ Church University’s Centre for European Studies, looks at the county’s particular needs across a range of sectors, including business and commerce, agriculture, healthcare, local government and policing and security.
Authored by Dr Amelia Hadfield, Director of the Centre for European Studies, and Dr Mark Hammond, Visiting Professor at Canterbury Christ Church University, the report examines both the challenges and the opportunities which may occur under Brexit. It concludes by offering key sector-specific methods by which the national government could work with a range of leaders in Kent and Medway to promote the appropriate conditions to ensure Brexit can operate as a success for communities and businesses alike.
Dr Amelia Hadfield, Director for the Centre for European Studies, explained: “Our economic prosperity, governance structures and social cohesion are fundamentally connected. The strategies and policies we need to look at adopting to make Brexit a success for the county needs an inclusive approach which recognises peoples’ individual needs and respond to the opportunities of Brexit in an equitable way.
“For the report we were intent on gathering together as many regional voices as possible. A variety of individuals, local organisations, businesses and government have worked with us since before the EU Referendum, helping us to identify the potential challenges that business, communities and individuals could face from Brexit, alongside the possible opportunities it could bring. As well as simply offering a method for genuine debate on all aspects of Brexit, the report is offered as a useful first step for national and regional decision-makers as they define the demands of Brexit as it applies to the Kent and Medway.”
During the construction of the report, three cross-cutting themes emerged, including: money, movement and making rules. All three impact differently on Kent and its sectors.
Dr Hadfield continued: “Although the UK has been a net contributor to the EU budget, there have been important areas where funding has come back to Kent in both visible and viable ways. Principally this includes farmers and growers under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP); income which amounted to about £45million in 2016/16 and upon which they are heavily dependent. Although the Autumn Statement announced that the Government will match the current level of agricultural funding derived from the CAP until 2020, the regions farmers are asking for continued funding until a new modern UK focused subsidy can be put into place.
“However, it’s not just our farmers that receive EU funding, strategic projects supporting tourism, environmental protection, local regeneration and businesses also currently benefit from EU support. Business and commerce would like to see the Government commit to support funding for a robust and sustainable business networks and invest in services provided for by The Department for International Trade. Thereby reducing the current uncertainty for our local businesses and other key sectors, and ensuring we are able to seize the opportunities that arise.
“There are also concerns surrounding the impact of freedom of movement. Historically, Kent has been in the front lines in terms of the movement of not only goods from the continent, but also of people either into permanent professional roles or as seasonal workers.
“Local businesses and organisations such as our farmers, local healthcare providers and universities are asking the Government to resolve the status of current EU workers in Kent – to understand how a new system can best support workers equitably in different sectors and also manage the future flow of people into and through the county. Our farmers wish to see the reintroduction of a modern seasonal agricultural works scheme to support their industry while controlling migration. Healthcare providers would like to see Government take steps now to clarify and establish a new regime for managing the migration of EU staff working in health and social care, specifically focussing on the skills and capacity needed in the sector to ensure its continuity and delivery of services.
Dr Hadfield concluded: “Brexit is the most complex, multilevel issue in contemporary British politics. The Brexit agenda is becoming increasingly animated in trying to identify local, national and international interests. What’s needed at this point, therefore, is open and honest debate - the key to understanding both the potential impacts risks, and the authentic opportunities that political, economic and social changes hold for our county.
“We hope that this regional, sector specific method can be used as an example for other counties to help them identify the opportunities Brexit could bring to ensure that their residents are also fully supported for their specific and local challenges ahead.”
Kent and Medway: making a success of Brexit a sectorial appraisal was launched at the Houses of Parliament on Monday, 12 December 2016, hosted by Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent.
You can read the full report here.
Notes to editors
Canterbury Christ Church University
Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.
With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.
- 95% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
- We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.
*2013/14 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey