Brexit webinar examines effect on business

Bacta hosted a webinar on the subject of Brexit this morning attracting over 70 members. The webinar was hosted by bacta CEO John White and he was joined by Justin Burke – General Manager – Sega Amusements International, Quentin Stott – Managing Director – Reflex Gaming, Kieran O’Keeffe – Secretary General – Euromat, Karen Joynt – Home Office and David Ramsbotham – Home Office.


Kieran O’Keeffe started off by giving an overview of the continued negotiations and explained that Brexit involves ‘the taking apart of something that was designed to enable the nations to work together’ therefore highlighting that the situation will remain in flux for a time to come as regulations will continue to be worked out. He revealed that in Europe, there is not the same ‘media-driven narrative’ on Brexit as we have in the UK and that there is ‘genuine sadness and resignation’ over the UK’s decision to leave. He also pointed out that ‘much of trade is driven by geographical proximity and therefore it is difficult to see that the UK will not be trading with Europe in the future’. It is highly important to remember that now the UK has left it will be ‘a rule taker and not a rule maker’ meaning that we will now have to accept the rules coming out of Brussels without having any say in the making of them.

Sega’s Justin Burke said that his company had noticed that since leaving the EU – things were taking long to process and there was more administration. Quentin Stott of Reflex said that business was told to prepare for Brexit but ‘details on how we were supposed to prepare were thin. Now companies like DHL are shipping again and we are getting our heads around commodity codes – it gets easier when you are doing the same things repeatedly.”

One of the major aspects of Brexit will be its affect on the labour market and there were two representatives from the Home Office Karen Joynt and David Ramsbotham to explain the details. Karen explained the rules behind settled status and explained that for those who applied for the right to remain the scheme had been a success with over 5 million applications. There will be a grace period for those applying until June 30 this year. In addition, for those Europeans who returned home during the pandemic but who wish to return to work in the UK – this is still possible. “It’s absolutely worth them doing that. The scheme is really easy, if they have a biometric passport it can be scanned using a mobile app. It is a step change,” said David.

However, Brexit does signal the end of free movement and it will bring new frictions and regulations. David explained that, “We took the opportunity to step back and introduce a single global system and to revise and reform that system to offer more opportunities for recruitment. We widened the opportunity for recruiting talent globally so business has a much broader pool for getting the best talent.” However, there will be greater restrictions ‘because the UK wants to focus on resident labour’.

Essentially now visitors from Europe can come to live in the UK for a period of up to 6 months but they will no longer be able to work. However, they will be permitted to take part in certain business activities such as attending a trade show or even speaking at a conference. For suppliers of equipment – European engineers will be able to come to repair or update products sold to customers in the UK.

In order to recruit people from the EU there will now be a points-based system. Companies will need to apply to be a registered sponsor. This process has an 8-week lead time and the licence is valid for four years. David Ramsbotham advised companies to apply to be sponsors ahead of recruitment. In order to be sponsored for work in the UK, applicants will need to have qualifications of the equivalent of A levels and will need to be paid a minimum of £27k. In order to pay a lower salary, there are other options open to employers such as taking on younger applicant trainees aged 26 and under. There are also opportunities to move applicants from offices within the same company – from Europe into the UK – via an inter-company visa – this tends to be at more of a senior level. For top tier talent there are unsponsored routes to working in the UK for EU nationals.

However, for those in reasonably unskilled jobs paid less that £27,000 a year – there are no longer any opportunities to work freely in the UK now that free movement has ended. The Home Office believes that this will ultimately have the result of decreasing immigration as a whole. “However, at a skilled level we know that India is looking at the number of visas available for working in the UK,” said Ramsbotham.

Kieran O’Keeffe from Euromat said that young people in Europe are likely to be feeling less welcome to come and work in the UK since Brexit and called it a ‘loss for both parties’. Both Justin and Quentin admitted that new rules on the labour market do not affect their businesses greatly as existing European colleagues applied for settled status. However, Quentin made the point that, “As we are based in a regional town we have traditionally drawn heavily on the Eastern European pool of workers for software resource. Many software engineers tend to move to the bigger cities such as London, Manchester and Birmingham, so we found the skills we needed in this set of people who were happy to stay in Newark. We are going to have to be alive to that.”

John White asked the question whether the Home Office representatives had an opinion on an International vaccination passport but they responded that the position was still unclear and individual countries still have the option to introduce their own specific travel restrictions.

Kieran from Euromat gave an EU perspective saying that Brussels is currently exploring a proposal for a vaccine passport to kick start tourism and they are keen to see the UK involves in that. However, there are practical obstacles – such as Hungary approving the Chinese vaccine not accepted elsewhere in Europe.

Questions to the panel included some on data transfer rules with Europe – raised by NSM’s Martin Agabeg – with the response that this is still something of a grey area with more regulations likely in future.

Next week’s webinar will once again be free to bacta members. It will look at the Gambling Act Review and set out bacta’s position. Bacta will send out the response document beforehand and John White, James Miller and Greg Woods (outgoing and incoming bacta Presidents respectively) will be on hand to answer questions. “We are happy to answer queries and take any good ideas for additions before we have to submit the document by March 31,” concluded John White.

You can register for the Gambling Review seminar here


The Brexit webinar can viewed again here