1. News
July 26, 2018

Lords: Brexit could lead to culture worker shortage

By Robert Scammell

The House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee has warned that the UK may see a decline of skilled workers in the culture sector after the UK leaves the European Union.

In its report published today, Brexit: movement of people in the cultural sector, the Lords committee cautioned that the UK could lose out if reciprocal agreements for the movement of people between the UK and EU are not agreed.

No agreement would mean that EU nationals would fall under the same visa rules for workers outside of the EU. Existing rules require a minimum salary that is higher than what many cultural organisations can offer.

Failing to reach an agreement means the UK could lose out on talent working in industries such as television, film, music and sport.

The report found that the ability to move between the UK and the 27 EU states at short notice is integral to the business model of many organisations in the cultural sector.

Lord Jay of Ewelme, Chairman of the Committee, said:

“Individuals working in the UK cultural sector are highly mobile and have thrived on collaboration with people from all over the world.

“The country benefits enormously from the sector’s contribution to its economy and society, and it makes an important contribution to the UK’s international image and influence.”

According to 2017 government figures, the creative industry is worth £92bn and is growing at twice the rate of the UK’s economy.

The Lords’ report warns a culture worker shortage will be of detriment to the sector.

Those working in digital industries, video games and the computer services sub-sector could also be affected.

What does the committee recommend to prevent a culture worker shortage?

The Government’s recent White Paper acknowledges that “the UK and the EU will […] need provisions that allow for mobility” to facilitate the proposed “cooperative accord” with the EU on culture and education.

The committee suggests offering a short-term ‘touring visa’ for EU citizens. Such a visa would allow access to multiple countries at various entry points.

The government should seek a reciprocal agreement for UK citizens travelling to the EU.

Another possibility is to extend permitted paid engagements to EU citizens. This type of visa is eligible for non-European Economic Area (EEA) citizens who are an expert in their profession and invited by a UK organisation or client.

Applications must be made three months before travel and cost £93.

The report also recommends extending permit-free festival arrangements to EU citizens. Under current arrangements, non-EEA artists and entertainers can take part in an event without the need to issue a certificate or sponsorship.

The visa only applies to festivals that meet strict criteria, such as an audience of at least 15,000 for at least three years and has at least 15 non-EEA performers who have been invited for the current year.

The report warns that a bad agreement could result in a significant loss for audiences that enjoy seeing talent from across Europe performing in the UK.

“If the Government is to achieve its wish to establish an immigration system that meets the needs of the post-Brexit economy, the UK’s negotiators will need to be flexible,” said Ewelme.

“This means recognising that any restrictions on EU citizens wishing to enter the UK to work may be matched by reciprocal restrictions on UK workers in the EU.”