Responding to the announcement that fewer than one in three (951,700) EU citizens in the UK have had settlement, or pre-settlement, status applications approved, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) National Chairman Mike Cherry said: “European business owners and employees are central to the UK’s economic success. One in five small employers rely on the skills of EU citizens and – with employment levels at record-highs – one in three now say finding the right staff is a major barrier to growth.
“With fewer than 80 days to go until 31 October, it’s critical that every effort is made to reach EU citizens who are digitally excluded, unaware of the need to make a settled status application or part of the sole trader community.
“We absolutely have to avoid a future scenario where our European colleagues find they’re without the right paperwork to stay in the UK. Achieving this should be fundamental to the Government’s no-deal contingency plans, details of which have been slow to emerge.
“Looking ahead, small business owners have been left without any sense of what our immigration system will look like post-Brexit. Clarity and guidance is needed. It’s vital that the voice of the small firms that make-up 99% of our business community is heard as that new system is formed.”