Oxfordshire County Council – Brexit briefing

Introduction

Ahead of the UK formally leaving the European Union on Friday 31 January 2020, this is an update on planning for Brexit by the county council and their partners. Cherwell District Council has taken the lead on liaising with the districts and City councils, and in turn working closely with the county council to form a co-ordinated response across Oxfordshire. Up until Christmas there were two main areas of work:

  • dealing with preparations for a no-deal Brexit via the Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum
  • looking at community, business and longer-term impacts involving leads from county, district and City councils.

Following the outcome for the General Election, Government instructed councils to stop preparations for a no deal Brexit at the end of January 2020 and, indeed, the ratification by the European Parliament on Wednesday 29 January means the withdrawal agreement will take effect and the UK will exit the EU on Friday.  Trade talks will commence soon. 

The next significant milestone is the 30 June 2020, which is the deadline for extending the transition period beyond 31 Dec 2020.  Should a deal not be agreed or an extension requested, it is still possible that the UK could leave without a deal.

The county council and its partners will now focus on the following workstreams:

  • supporting residents with applications to the EU settlement scheme
  • engagement with local business to support preparations for exiting the EU
  • supporting initiatives to maintain and improve community cohesion during and after the transition phase

Officers from the county council and representatives from the district council will meet on a monthly call and get updates from leads of each of these workstreams. The county council has a contingency fund that was allocated by government in the event of a no deal Brexit and remains in place.

Online advice to residents, communities and business

Advice on the county council website has been updated in line with changes to the Government’s information. District and City councils also carry their own advice and guidance for their communities. 

Business advice

Economic development officers across all six councils have been working with OxLEP, Oxfordshire’s enterprise partnership body, to consider how to support local businesses. Business advice has been communicated through OxLEP emails to thousands of businesses and council social media posts.

OxLEP has provided Oxfordshire business with advice, mainly by directing people to the Government’s web-based guidance.

In addition, OxLEP has organised a 1:1 business support programme across the county up until March, which is primarily to address SME Brexit concerns.

Community engagement

Councils have been advising EU nationals about the settlement scheme, including the county council’s document checking services in libraries.

Oxford City Council is launching a campaign called #WeAreOxford to engage residents and “celebrate communities” in response to uncertainty over Brexit.

Links

Oxfordshire County Council advice

EU settlement scheme

www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/brexit

OxLEP business advice

(www.oxfordshirelep.com/brexit)