Letter published in the Stratford Herald on Thursday, 8th March, 2017
Stratford-on-Avon District is home to around 5,000 European Union citizens or ‘expats’ from our 27 EU partner countries. With over 85% in employment, higher than the UK average, EU citizens make a vital contribution to our local economy and our community. EU workers play an essential role in our NHS and hard-pressed social care services, they ensure that our farmers can get their food to market, and many work in the catering and hospitality sectors that are so important to support tourism, one of the main drivers of our local economy. Contrary to perceived opinion, EU citizens pay £1.34 in tax for every £1 they receive in State assistance and, as a House of Lords Committee has reported this week, they do not lower wages. Indeed, as the House of Commons Select Committee noted in its report last weekend, “they came to the UK legally and have contributed to the UK economically and culturally and enriched UK society”.
In short, we should treasure our EU citizens and it is time for the District Council to do everything it can to demand that the Government end the dreadful uncertainty EU citizens, and their families, have faced since 23 June 2016. Stratford District can start by taking up the call of Stratford4Europe to pass a motion supporting the House of Lords’ amendment to the Article 50 Bill, to guarantee immediately to preserve the rights of EU citizens in the District to continue to live and work in the UK if we leave the EU. By taking this step the District will help to give our fellow EU citizens the assurance that they need and show just how much we value their contribution to our community.