London Regional Sounding Board meets to discuss impact of Brexit on councils

30 October 2018

Southwark Council recently established a cross-party Brexit Panel to investigate how Brexit has affected the borough, and the potential consequences of Brexit to Southwark’s local economy, communities and residents.

In May this year, Cllr Victoria Mills was appointed as Cabinet Member for Finance, Performance and Brexit. Southwark Council is the first borough to have Brexit as a cabinet responsibility and is committed to preparing the authority, and the community, for the impacts of Brexit.

Southwark’s Brexit Panel has already met three times and heard from a range of local and national expert witnesses who have given evidence.

After hearing evidence from a range of sectors including health, education, business and community groups, the consistent theme is that there is significant uncertainty and not enough information passed from central government for councils to adequately prepare for any potential fallout from Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Today, Tuesday 30 October, the council is widening the reach of its research to open up Brexit as a discussion at the Local Government Association (LGA)’s Regional Sounding Board. Here, Southwark Lambeth and Lewisham councils will meet to raise their concerns, and those of local stakeholders, directly to the government.

Cllr Mills said: “Local authorities will be significantly affected by Brexit, as will many of our residents, and so we are using this as an opportunity to strongly make our case to the government that more clarity is urgently needed and that councils need to be directly involved in the Brexit process. It is clear that local government’s voice has been markedly absent from the Brexit negotiations and this is a vital opportunity to make a compelling case for consideration of our services during the Brexit process and discuss funding, legislation and regulation concerns.”

Councillor Kevin Bonavia, Cabinet Member for Cabinet Member for Democracy, Refugees and Accountability said: “Brexit is the biggest challenge facing this country in generations.  There is huge uncertainty about the extent of the detrimental impact on the economy and public services. Councils are already struggling to maintain local public services as a result of many years of central government cuts to council funding.

“And yet the national debate seems to exclude the impact on local government. It is high time these issues were brought out into the open and discussed in real terms.

“What will the impact be on our communities and their cohesion? The goods and services we rely on? Staffing levels in the public sector and NHS. Jobs and businesses are under threat and it is absolutely right for local authorities to be making a stand on their behalf. Since the referendum there has been a marked increase in hostile behaviour towards immigrants and an unpleasant and dangerous increase in nationalism and xenophobic attitudes - this needs to be addressed urgently.

“I’m very pleased to take part in this debate. Let’s hope we can get some answers to these critical questions.”

Cllr Lib Peck, Lambeth Council leader, said: “The effect of Brexit on our economy, on the costs in the construction market which affects the building of affordable homes, and on the numbers of EU workers coming to support our public services is already having significant negative effects on our borough and across the country.

“Lambeth is home to more than 30,000 European citizens and we are particularly concerned about the implementation of the EU Citizens scheme, especially its impact on vulnerable EU citizens.  Lambeth, Lewisham and Southwark already work closely together on many policy issues and this sounding board is an important opportunity for us to work collaboratively to address the risks posed by Brexit.”  

Page last updated: 30 October 2018