By Rebecca Curley, Local Democracy Reporter, 25 September 2019
Vulnerable adults who rely on the support of care workers could be affected if Britain leaves the EU on 31 October, county councillors have been told.
Staff shortages and tracking illegal goods through trading standards are among the problems Brexit could create for Surrey County Council (SCC) according to a report.
The council has been given £87,500 from the £20m pot from central government to aid Brexit preparations.
District and borough councils are set to get £17,484.
A number of problems have been identified, with suggestions on how they can be addressed presented to councillors at an SCC cabinet meeting on Tuesday 24 September.
Council deputy leader Cllr Colin Kemp said: “Although nobody can be sure exactly what this may look like, everybody agreed there will be some disruption.
“We have identified some possible issues and put in place some resilience in all the processes and procedures to make sure we are as prepared as we can be.”
He said the county has been working with the boroughs and districts, the Local Resilience Forum, health agencies and business communities.
Council leader Cllr Tim Oliver said: “We all started with a blank piece of paper not knowing what we were expecting to plan for. We are as prepared as we can be.”
Here are five of the ways Brexit will impact Surrey County Council – information from the September cabinet report.
Risk: The council uses some EU databases that help support service delivery, for instance to help Trading Standards understand which goods, foods and businesses pose any threats. There are also databases and servers based in EU member states.
Action: The council has been identifying those servers and systems and assessing any potential impact on services due to changes in accessibility to EU databases and information flow. It will continue to maintain a watching brief and align contingency plans with government and the Information Commissioner’s Office guidance.
Staff shortages with suppliers
Risk: Potential staff shortages with contractors, particularly those who provide care and construction workers. Any staff shortages for suppliers may incur additional costs to the council to maintain service provisions and prompt potential diminution of services for some of the most vulnerable residents.
Action: The council has continued to frequently liaise with providers and suppliers to understand any additional risks and is establishing contingency plans and providing support for their preparations.
Risk: Congestion building up onto Surrey roads due to border delays and lorries stacking up on motorways leading to the ports.
Action: The council and Surrey’s Local Resilience Forum have a close working relationship with the Kent Local Resilience Forum (KLRF), particularly around Brexit planning and Operation Fennel. Operation Fennel is Kent’s overarching freight and passenger traffic management plan, designed to mitigate potential congestion caused by border delays and any subsequent impacts on surrounding areas, including Surrey. The council has continued to work with Kent to inform these plans and ensure preparations are in place to minimise any potential implications on Surrey’s transport network and service delivery.
Surrey County Council’s Workforce
Risk: The primary risk of delivering council services is a potential reduction in the council’s workforce and those staff employed by providers – particularly if non-UK EU staff choose to leave or relocate there may be reduced capacity to deliver core services.
Action: The council has been providing regular updates to staff around citizens’ rights and targeted communications, particularly around social care. Deputy council leader Cllr Colin Kemp said they have been helping staff with any paperwork that may be needed to help them remain in the country.
Communicating to residents
Risk: Making sure residents feel settled and reassured within their communities. The council has a role in place-shaping, which entails creating an environment for businesses to flourish and supporting other organisations.
Action: There is a web page on Surrey County Council’s website providing key information and guidance and the council has welcomed the government’s Get ready for Brexit campaign.