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Minister says Whitehall lacks city-level Brexit data

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The government has no sub-regional data on the impact of Brexit, a minister has admitted to the Local Government Association.

Junior minister for exiting the EU Kwasi Kwarteng told the LGA councillors’ forum this afternoon that no information existed at city level.

He was answering Plymouth City Council leader Tudor Evans (Lab) who said: “I asked MHCLG for data it had on the impact of Brexit on Plymouth and was told more or less that if they told me they’d have to kill me. How can we plan when the government is playing secret squirrel?”

Portsmouth City Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson (Lib Dem) complained that his authority owned the second largest cross-channel port but had contradictory advice from the police and Department for Transport on how it should prepare for increased lorry movements on a constrained road network, which the government would not clarify.

Mr Kwarteng said: “Regional impact assessments have been made but we do not have that granular detail. As far as I know we have not done any analysis at city level.”

He earlier told the meeting that while he supported Brexit “I am fully alive to the challenges and the [prime minister’s] deal delivers best on the referendum.

“We are not going for no deal as our preferred outcome, but it is right and proper to prepare for it.”

Concerns had been raised about areas that receive EU grants, but Mr Kwarteng implied the UK government could replace these from savings, as the country had contributed twice to the EU budget what it received back in grants.

Essex CC member Kevin Bentley (Con), chair of the LGA Brexit Taskforce, earlier told the meeting that communities secretary James Brokenshire would on Monday announce the allocations between councils of the £35m fund to prepare for Brexit.

He noted the fund was small, saying: “That would probably buy me a couple of laybys on the A12.”

Cllr Bentley said he had raised the position of care workers with health minister Stephen Hammond, who had promised to investigate the problem.

“The care workforce is a high priority as those from EU nationally are 7-8% [of the total] but in Essex its 31%,” he said.

“I have asked, do they have to have been here for five years to gain settled status if they are in a designated job like care?

“If we lose them we could see contracts handed back due to workforce issues.”

 

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