Theresa May has promised that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK will be able to stay following Britain’s exit from the European Union.
In an email sent to EU nationals at the European Council Summit, which took place from 19 to 20 October 2017, the prime minister stated that agreement over citizens’ rights with the EU is within “touching distance”.
She explained that EU citizens will be able to apply for EU settled status through a streamlined digital process, developed in collaboration with a focus group of EU citizens, digital and legal experts. The prime minister also took the unprecedented step of announcing that EU applicants will not have to account for every trip in and out of the UK over five years or demonstrate comprehensive sickness insurance.
The National Federation of Builders (NFB) believes that the prime minister’s letter will do much to offer some reassurance to the 3.2 million EU nationals living and working in the UK. However, the Government must make it a mission to secure an exit agreement with the EU.
It is estimated that approximately 200,000 EU citizens work in the construction industry, making up for 10% of the sector’s workforce.
Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “The construction industry is still facing a shortage of skilled construction workers, as well as the most acute housing crisis in living memory. The Government has to secure a deal that give certainty to our existing EU workforce, while enabling construction SMEs to attract home-grown talent into the industry, build more homes, and develop local economies across every region of the UK.”