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TSA report: "Brexit deal must include flexible immigration"

13 November 2017

The Textile Services Association (TSA), the trade association representing small and industrial-sized laundry firms, is calling on the Government to ensure that during and beyond any Brexit transitional deal, a flexible immigration system is introduced to ensure continued access to labour from the European Union. This must be coupled with minimal import tariffs for industrial equipment and cleaning chemicals.

The findings of an independent economic report, carried out by consulting firm Regeneris and commissioned by the TSA, show how the UK’s £1.86 billion textile services industry, which provides rental and commercial laundry services, is reliant on labour from the EU. 

The report highlights four main economic challenges:

  • Brexit – the industry’s workforce is made up of 40% non-UK EU Nationals who fear an uncertain status for themselves and their family members.
  • Recruitment – the sector directly employs 34,400 people yet TSA’s survey found 62% of laundry firms had unfilled vacancies and 41% found it took longer to fill vacant posts than last year.
  • Downward pressure on prices – the sustained record plunge in sterling since Brexit has pushed up import prices for cleaning products, chemicals and machinery.
  • Rising costs of production – in the second quarter of 2017, costs had increased by a weighted average of 4.05%, more than the 2.6% rate of inflation (CPI).

The report states that TSA members continue to invest record levels in innovation and the automation of their plants, and contribute £1.86 billion to the UK economy. They also directly support sectors that contribute £630 billion to the UK economy every year. As such, the TSA argues that the Government must tailor UK policies "to support this hidden engine of the UK economy" which is driving the UK’s health, hospitality and manufacturing sectors processing 53 million items a week.

Dr Philip Wright, chief executive of the TSA, said: “The report proves that textile services are critical for large swathes of the UK economy, including hotels, restaurants, hospitals, high tech manufacturing and life sciences sectors. Everyone from patients, tourists, factory workers and chefs rely on products processed by TSA member firms without realising, yet their absence would cause monumental disruption."

He added: “TSA members face a number of economic challenges and call on the Government to make the right choices during Brexit negotiations to ensure access to labour and vital machinery and chemicals remain affordable after we leave the European Union.”

To read the report click here.

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