Tower Hamlets LBC faces skill shortages, disruption to funding and increases in hate crime because of Brexit, the borough’s Brexit Commission has reported.
Set up by elected mayor John Biggs (Lab) the commission’s report said Brexit would mean “a high risk of skills shortages in certain sectors; however, that also presents an opportunity for local people to fill vacancies created” but that would require a review of skills training to ensure they could match employers’ needs.
Mr Biggs said: “The findings of our Brexit Commission will apply not only here, but in communities right across the country.
“The council has taken a lead in ensuring that our borough is ready to absorb the impacts and seize the opportunities associated with Brexit. This report gives us the platform, backed up by the evidence gathered over four months of detailed engagement, to continue to deliver those objectives.”
Organisations in Tower Hamlets has received EU funding of some £12m a year and programmes supported by it “will face an uncertain future”, with any replacement funds “unlikely to be sufficient to replicate current funding arrangements”.
It also warned that if Brexit’s impact on the economy put public sector funding under even greater strain, “there is a risk that the increasing demand for services will not be met”.
Adult social care was “particularly reliant on EU staff”, and post-Brexit difficulties with recruitment and retention could damage the quality and scope of services
The report said restrictions on the mobility of talent in higher education “will present significant challenges for the recruitment and retention of research staff and students”, notably at the local Queen Mary University of London.
Young people interviewed by the commission voiced fears that the 2016 referendum result had encouraged hate crime.
The report said: “The ‘leave’ vote created the perception of a permissive space where hate crime, not only targeted at non-UK EU citizens, increased.”
Many of the young people who contributed “felt that Brexit had deepened racial divides in Tower Hamlets and had created an ‘us versus them’ mentality amongst residents.
“They felt xenophobia in Britain had increased since the Brexit referendum, and this was particularly relevant for the local borough.”