Members of the Textile Services Association employ over 31,000 staff in over 220 sites across the UK. Our members support nearly every aspect of the UK economy, from healthcare, hospitality and tourism, to all forms of manufacturing and engineering, food, high tech R&D and many more, supplying all types of linen and workwear, including personal protective equipment. The impact of Brexit will therefore have both direct and indirect impact on our members and their customers.
Brexit has three possible impacts on our members:
· Access to employees
· Standards and regulation
1. Access to employees
Of 31,000 employees across textile services in the UK, 13,000 of them (42%) are from other European countries. A significant number of companies have over 80% of their employees from other European countries. At a time when unemployment is low at 4.5% – economically near the
If the UK is to sustain and grow its high tech industries, manufacturing and healthcare it is essential those in the critical supply chain, including textile services, are able to continue to have access to new employees from Europe, where appropriate staff are unavailable in the UK.
Overly restricting access to non-UK employees will impact on services as organisations expand and fuel wage inflation and inflation in prices for customers. If this happens, Government must increase the budgets for public services, including the NHS, to ensure the supply chain is sustained – without this many public services could be negatively impacted.
· Government provides a simple administrative system by which companies can seek recruits from other European countries when no suitable UK recruits are available.
· Where the Government’s immigration stance creates wage inflation it must increase budgets for public services to ensure continuation of supply.
2. Standards and regulation
The alignment and coordination of standards across Europe has been one of the most significant benefits from European integration, this must not be lost after ‘Brexit’.
While our members do not supply product outside the UK, they do invest in plant and machinery and supplies from across Europe. It is essential that the UK remains part of the CEN and ISO organisations to ensure consistent standards. Implementing different standards is likely to increase the cost of plant and supplies.
· Government Should ensure that the UK’s standards remain consistent with those across Europe and remain an active partner in CEN and ISO.
The weakening of the pound has led to inflation down the supply chain and in the quarterly Laundry Cost Index, this had increased to 4.05%, driven by increasing costs as well as wages following the increase in the National Living Wage in April 2017, which has had in higher pay levels as well.
Wage inflation is likely to continue in the future driven by the Government’s immigration policy. It is essential that Government recognises these increases driven by their policy and increase budgets appropriately in public services that require textile provision.
· Where the Government’s stance on policies and immigration creates wage inflation or other inflation, it must increase budgets for public services to ensure continuation of supply, be that textiles or other essential services. âââââ