Agenda item

Brexit Update Report

Minutes:

The Leader presented the report, updating Cabinet Members on the progress in the post Brexit / trade arrangements since 31 December 2020.

 

Trade Negotiations Update

·       Since the United Kingdom left the European Union and the Single Market on 31 December 2020, businesses (importers / exporters) from the UK and EU were having to comply with the new custom arrangements.

·       As the report highlighted, it was a difficult few months for businesses in Wales to meet these new requirements and there was a significant drop in the level of exports and imports. It is yet to be seen what the full impact of these arrangements would be over the next 6 to 12 months due to the Covid restrictions.

·       The future economic resilience of Newport and South East Wales was vital to ensure that existing and new businesses could sustainably thrive.  It was also important that we promoted the ‘Newport Offer’ to homegrown entrepreneurs as well as global businesses.

·       Having a diverse and sustainable economy that was able to provide sustainable growth would enable Newport’s communities not just to ‘level up’ but also provided opportunities for our communities to thrive in the long term for Newport’s future generations. 

·       The report also highlighted the new funding (Levelling Up Fund and UK Community Renewal Fund) that the UK Government were bringing in to replace the EU Structural funding that South East Wales and Newport had benefited from in the past.

·       The Levelling Up Fund announced to enable potential large scale investment on transport, regeneration and cultural investment could support Newport in delivering key projects in the City and Newport was identified as a Category 1 area for investment

·       The UK Community Renewal Fund was prioritised to 100 areas in the UK based upon their productivity, household income, unemployment skills and population density.  Newport Council would be able to submit bids from local community groups, charities, the Council and tertiary education establishments up to £3million for funding as a lead authority.

·       It was noted however that both of these Funds were determined by a competitive process and we were not guaranteed to receive any or all of the bids submitted. Furthermore, there was no guarantee that Newport and South East Wales would receive the same level of funding as we would have received under previous arrangements.  

·       What makes Newport a great City to live in, work in and visit is our diverse and inclusive communities and groups.  Newport was always a welcoming City for people from all nations no matter their race, sexuality, and religion.

·       It was concerning for Cabinet that we may have many EU citizens living and working in Newport that may still not have applied for EU Settled Status and those who were presenting themselves to the Council with no recourse to public funds. 

·       Newport Council alongside community groups and other organisations in Newport were promoting this scheme and encouraging people to apply.  It was important to encourage family members, friends, work colleagues to apply before the 30 June.  Anyone that was struggling or unsure how to apply should contact the Council or visit our website so that they could be signposted to the correct sites to apply.  

 

Progress Update as outlined in the Report

·       Newport Council’s communications team continued to share Welsh Government information on the new trade arrangements, business requirements and information for EU citizens.  This was being shared through Social Media, Business newsletters and the Council’s website.

·       In the first three months of the new arrangement, Newport Council’s services did not report any initial issues and/or concerns in the supply of goods and services.

·       The Council’s finance team (including Procurement) reported some increases in the cost of procurement but overall supply has operated as normal. 

·       As part of the Council’s financial prudence, contingencies were made to manage Brexit / Covid impacts and as the risk stabilises in time this allocation would be re-prioritised. 

·       The Regulatory Services continued to offer support to businesses and Environmental Health staff have completed necessary training to complete health certificate checks.

·       The Council’s Community Cohesion officers continued to work with EU communities and offering support for vulnerable communities. 

·       Local groups / charities were also being offered the opportunity to access Food Poverty support that have been impacted by Brexit / Covid.

·       Newport Council would be receiving additional funding in 2021/22 to support its Food Poverty work and there would be greater emphasis for our Community Hubs to provide debt and housing advice to those presenting themselves to the Council. 

·       The table in Appendix 1 of the report provided full details across the areas covered by the Task & Finish Group.

 

Decision:

Cabinet considered the contents of the report and noted the Council’s Brexit response.

 

Supporting documents: