The Leader presented the report to Cabinet.
The next Cabinet Report was an update on the post EU Transition arrangements since the UK left the EU in December 2020.
Progress to Date
· Since the previous report in September, Wales and the wider UK economy encountered several disruptions which impacted households and businesses across Newport.
· We have seen the impact that the labour market was having across different sectors such as logistics disrupting food and fuel supply, social care, construction, farming and hospitality.
· This was also impacting Council services with disruptions to City Services and social care.
· The cost of energy (electric and gas) had increased which would see households on standard and pre-payment tariffs see an increase in the energy costs. For low income households in Newport this would have a significant impact and would put further pressure on those vulnerable households.
· Food prices were increasing as well as disruptions in supply resulting in certain foods not reaching supermarkets and impacting on food banks across Newport and Wales.
· Whilst these issues were solely attributed to the UK leaving the EU and the impact of Covid was a significant contributor, it was becoming clearer about the impact that Brexit was having on businesses to be able to function as effectively prior to leaving.
· The Council’s Civil Contingencies team, were supporting the Council’s Gold team to respond to these issues and collaborating with other local authorities as part of its wider Local Resilience Forum.
· The Council’s Finance teams were also monitoring the situation as part of its monthly monitoring and revenue planning.
· It was over three months since the deadline passed for EU/EAA citizens to apply for EU Settled Status.
· In Newport 10,990 applications were received since this process started.
· 5,410 EU/EAA citizens received full Settled Status while 3,620 citizens received Pre-settled status.
· There were however over 1,000 residents still awaiting a decision.
· Cabinet wanted to reiterate its support for EU/EAA citizens living and working in Newport and that they all had a part to play in making Newport a great city to live and work in. The Leader encouraged anyone who was still awaiting a decision or having difficulties to conclude their application to contact the Council and other organisations such as Citizens Advice Bureau.
· Newport Council was continuing to work with community groups and third sector organisations to ensure EU citizens had access to the services and support they need.
· The Council was working with GAVO to make arrangements to support further food poverty work.
· Community Cohesion officers were now focusing on post Brexit rights and making sure EU citizens, businesses and services understand their obligations to access services.
Comments from Cabinet Members
· Councillor Harvey reiterated her previous comments as mentioned on the previous agenda item.
· Councillor Davies agreed with Councillor Harvey’s comments and expressed concern regarding winter fuel crisis and the impact of main Newport employers such as the local steel plant. With a potential lack of fuel in the supply chain this could have a significant impact on jobs and redundancies.
· Councillor Truman echoed comments of the Leader and colleagues and referred to possible dilemma faced by as mentioned before on families that were struggling financially to pay for food or their energy bills this winter.
· Councillor Hughes sat on board of trustees for one of Newport’s food banks and shared colleagues concerns but also highlighted that volunteers in Newport were working very hard during the pandemic. Councillor Hughes expressed his gratitude for the wealth of volunteers that worked at food banks, it was unfortunate that they were needed but their work was important.
· Councillor Mayer also expressed his concerns about unfairness and inequality and agreed with his colleagues.
· Councillor Jeavons reiterated his previous comments regarding HGV drivers and referred to the 20 foreign lorry drivers who were granted a visa to work in Britain and hoped more would come forward.
· Councillor Cockeram also shared the concern of his colleagues regarding food banks.
As mentioned in the previous agenda item, the Leader advised that it was essential to keep this item on the Cabinet Agenda considering the comments received by Cabinet Members.
That Cabinet noted the Council’s Brexit response.