Group will cover four key areas affected by UK’s departure from EU at end of this year
The Construction Leadership Council (CLC) has assembled a new taskforce to brace the industry for the impact of Brexit when the transition period comes to an end at the end of this year.
The new team, known as the Brexit Working Group, will advise the government on how to protect construction if no deal is agreed between the UK and the EU by 31 December.
A series of impact reports explaining the changes that firms will need to make in the event of no deal will be published from September along with a series of online seminars to explain the guidance in the reports.
CLC co-chair Andy Mitchell warned: “While businesses contend with the fallout from covid-19 and adjust to the new ways of working, the clock continues to tick on reaching an agreement with the EU.”
He added: “Whether we reach an agreement or not, our relationship with our European neighbours and the rest of the world will change and we’ll be doing all we can to help the industry adapt, adjust and rise to meet the prime minister’s ‘Build, Build, Build’ ambition.”
Four key areas to be covered by the group include the impact of the new immigration rules, which will bar ‘unskilled’ workers from entering the country unless there is a sector-specific skills shortage. Currently, EU nationals make up over 30% of the construction workforce in London.
Other issues will include how firms can adapt to the new customs regime, including guidance on WTO rules in the event of no deal.
National Federation of Builders head of policy James Butcher, who is coordinating the group, said that the advice will “prepare businesses for what will happen both in terms of the changes we know about and in the event of no agreement”.
Guidance on construction products regulations will also be given, as well as advice on how data flows and GDPR will be affected if no deal is reached.
The group will also champion new opportunities for the sector arising from ongoing trade talks with non-EU countries, which include the US and Japan.
The CLC’s covid-19 taskforce has played a key role in helping construction ride out the impact of the pandemic, including its Site Operating Procedures published during the early days of the lockdown to keep jobs up and running.
The Brexit Working Group’s four key areas:
• Movement of People: preparing for the new immigration rules, accessing alternative labour supply and reciprocal arrangements on skills and qualifications in new trade deals
• Movement of Goods and Materials: preparing for the new customs regime, guidance on WTO rules in the event of no agreement with the EU and alternative sourcing opportunities in the rest of the world and the domestic market
• Standards and Alignment: guidance on the Construction Products Regulation, EU notified bodies, CE marking, UK designated standards, UKCA marking and the longer term prospects of (de)harmonisation and (de)alignment
• Data Adequacy: business awareness of the potential impact and mitigating actions on data flow in the event of no agreement with the EU and no decision by the European Commission on the UK’s ‘data adequacy’