NATECLA's No-Deal Brexit Statement
NATECLA is strongly opposed to the current government’s responses to Brexit and actions in making a no-deal Brexit more likely. These are antithetical to the values and principles of openness and exchange on which ESOL is based and also to the well-being and security of those with whom ESOL has worked for many years.
The government has made clear it intends the UK to leave the EU by Oct 31 whatever the circumstances. Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has stated that free movement of labour will also end on this day for all EU citizens, including the British. She has also announced that post-Brexit newly arrived immigrants should be English speaking.
The consequences of these strategies are profound, imminent and extremely damaging to the ESOL community. Some, but by no means all, of the most serious include:
a) The removal of funding for all newly arrived EU citizens post exit. Under the most extreme no-deal Brexit and the ensuing end to free movement of labour, these students will no longer be treated as home students and therefore entitled to any form of funding. In addition to their not being free to live and work in the UK, these potential ESOL learners would be likely to have to pay an unsubsidised double fee. Such learners would be not only those born in EU countries but many, for example Latin Americans, who have come to the UK via Europe.
b) The lack of clarity regarding future immigration and the absence of any transition period means that current ESOL students from Europe who do not yet have Settled Status face becoming caught in No Man’s Land where they, potential employers and colleges remain uncertain about their legal status including their entitlement to funding for study.
c) The loss of future ESOL students plus the uncertainty regarding the status of current learners will make planning for ESOL very difficult, prompting providers to begin allocating their funding into other areas. This already seems to be happening in some parts of the country.
d) In addition to this reallocation of funding away from ESOL, Brexit without any form of compensatory deal will mean the loss of vital funding for the further education and charity sector as a whole from sources such as the European Social Fund and European Regional Development Funds, valued at around €7.1billion for the 2014-2020 period(1). In FE, an estimated £1b of the funds had been allocated for the 2014-2020 period for ESOL funded through the DfE ESFA Adult Education Budget(2). The government has not outlined how this funding will be replaced after a No-Deal Brexit. This would impact on how the sector is able to meet demand for ESOL students whether British, EU or non-EU. Some EU funded ESOL projects are already advertising they face being cut if the UK leaves on 31 October, putting jobs and provision at risk.
e) The proposed new immigration policy, which prioritises higher earning, English-speaking employees threatens thousands of workers’ livelihoods in the UK. These include our ESOL learners, who make immeasurable contributions to the UK not only economically but culturally and socially from cleaning our offices to working in our hospitals.
What can you do?
- Make sure everyone in your workplace understands the implications for ESOL of leaving the EU including under a no-deal. This includes your Principals and trade union representatives. Lobby them to make statements opposing the current government strategies including the proposed changes to immigration post-Brexit.
- Continue to ask your MP for clarification and to lobby on behalf of EU nationals to ensure current and future EU citizens continue to benefit from free movement of labour: https://www.writetothem.com/.
- There are currently local and national actions taking place which aim to ensure that people’s democratic rights are heard. You could choose to research these and inform your learners of their right to take part in peaceful protest.
This is a decisive moment for ESOL. The current government strategies are at odds with the values of our practice and threaten much of our provision. We urge all members to act now before it is too late.