‘We need clarity on transient labour’ says John Tutte

John Tutte

The boss of house builder Redrow has said Theresa May’s plans about the status of EU workers in the UK have done nothing to ease fears about a looming skills shortage in construction because of Brexit.

John Tutte, chief executive of the £1.4bn turnover firm, was speaking just a day after the prime minister unveiled proposals to preserve the rights of three million EU citizens living in the UK.

Under Home Office proposals, the three million will have to apply to be on a “settled status” identity register.

But Tutte (pictured) said May had left construction in the dark about the status of its workforce which is often transient.

He said: “The UK construction industry relies heavily upon a transient EU workforce and there’s currently no clarity regarding this important area of policy.

“As a minimum, there should be a transitional period, lasting for a number of years, where transitional EU workers could secure temporary visas. This would allow the UK construction industry more time to develop the skilled labour required to meet this country’s housing shortage.”

The Home Office proposals include a ‘light touch’ online system to process applications that will give applicants the same “indefinite leave to remain” status as many non-European nationals who have also lived in Britain for five years.

Meanwhile, a survey by consultancy firm Deloitte found 47% of highly skilled workers from the EU were considering leaving the UK in the next five years.

Deloitte surveyed 2,242 EU and non-EU workers, half living in the UK and half living outside.

Brexit has prompted EU workers to look at leaving because of uncertainties about the UK’s economic outlook and because any money those workers earn in pounds is now worth less in euros for them to send home.