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MPs urge permanent residence for EU construction workers

All EU nationals working in the UK construction industry should be given a permanent right to stay in this country, a group of MPs has urged.

The All-party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment said the measure was urgently needed as part of a package of interventions to protect major projects ahead of Brexit.

“If access to skilled EU workers is cut off before the sector is able to train a domestic workforce, plans for the £500bn pipeline of new work including in excess of one million new homes by 2022, airport expansion and High Speed 2 will not be deliverable,” a report by the group warned.

It urged ministers to “ensure at the earliest opportunity an unconditional and permanent right to residence and work for existing EU nationals employed in UK construction”.

The report – Building on Brexit – added that either a continuing period of uncertainty about EU nationals’ rights, or a sudden loss of capacity as a result of a worker exodus, would cause construction output to fall.

“The construction industry would find itself in a desperate place,” the study stated.

The MPs said the sector had a key role to play alongside the government.

“Industry must step up to the plate and become futureproof, more productive and enterprising by harnessing digital technologies and offsite construction and also by encouraging disruptors into the market,” they said.

The group is chaired by former Tory MP for Plymouth, Sutton and Devonport Oliver Colvile, who lost his seat in June, and includes Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood Helen Hayes.

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