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Brexit uncertainty

Uncertainty over Brexit is harming the security industry, writes Matthew Watson, Managing Director of Titan Security Europe.

The problem with approaching any thoughts on Britain’s post-Brexit future is that so much information and economic forecasting is highly politicised. What happens to the security industry once Britain leaves the European Union is open to such a great deal of doubt. Yet this uncertainty is already having an impact on our industry (including my own company, Titan Security Europe) and we do not need to be able to read the future perfectly to extrapolate current trends, or to consider fundamental economics.

We have seen that the referendum decision in 2016 has seen a decrease in the number of EU nationals moving to work in the UK. A significant percentage of our security workforce is made up of people holding EU passports and a reduction in immigration – or European security guards leaving the UK – will create difficulties filling shifts with a smaller and increasingly British workforce. More difficulty will of course eventually translate to higher rates being demanded, especially for last-minute arrangements.

Yet a larger problem might be in the fact that an EU national is more likely to cover a large number of shifts and at more difficult times. Since European workers send billions of pounds home to support families in the rest of the EU, and that the pound is stronger and worth more in countries using their own currencies or the euro, it is clear that the same work is worth more compared with British guards. An EU national is therefore more likely to work shifts at night, on a bank holiday – or more shifts in a week because, for them, their pay is worth more. A reduction in the number of guards holding an EU passport would again put these shifts at a premium, with fewer guards working them and, consequently, demanding more for them.

Britain’s ongoing trade relationship with the EU is also still up in the air. What we do know is that those in the service sector generally face a more difficult future than those in manufacturing. Existing trade deals for services with the EU necessitate free movement of peoples and common regulations. Again, we do not know what any deal will actually look like, but the increased number of obstacles will create doubts and difficulties. Uncertainty means a reduction in business or business on reduced terms, reducing margins for security firms looking to expand overseas.

Whatever Britain’s future relationship with the EU will look like, it is clear that the transition itself, with all the obstacles and uncertainty that accompanies it, is already having a negative impact. EU nationals simply work too many shifts, especially at more difficult times of day or year, for their absence not to be felt. The 2019 minimum wage increase may incentivise British workers to make up part of this gap but it is likely that the trend will be towards higher costs for staffing for security firms. For those looking to guard sites within the EU, these increased costs will be met with decreasing margins, in an increasingly uncertain future.

About Titan Security Europe

The Torquay-based company offers manned guarding, key-holding and mobile patrols. Visit https://www.titansecurityeurope.com/.


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