The EU and jobs

The EU creates jobs and helps our economy grow in Kent

  • Although all figures about the impact of the EU on jobs are contested, research suggests that around 86,629 jobs in Kent could be dependent on our membership of the EU.
  • Certain sectors of the Kent economy are more vulnerable than those elsewhere in the UK to a reduction in trade with the rest of the EU- not least when it comes to farming, tourism and services like language schools.
  • The farming community is particularly concerned, with David Long, a farmer from near Rochester in Kent, having said the prospect of Brexit is ‘terrifying’, both because it would mean farms losing access to EU CAP funding, and because it would cause severe labour shortages. On top of that, if the UK was outside the EU and outside the single market, World Trade Organization rules would apply to our foreign trade, meaning that the imports could not be restricted on environmental or animal welfare grounds- putting Kent farmers at a disadvantage.

 

Introduction

It is hard to overstate how important our membership of the EU is for the British economy.  Being a member of the EU means our businesses have access to the biggest single market in the world.  That encourages more businesses to move to the UK, and for those here already encourages them to expand.  That means more jobs: experts estimate that one in every ten jobs in the UK depends on trade with EU countries - and many more will benefit indirectly. HMRC calculated that 3,332 businesses in the South East export goods to the EU, benefitting from access to the Single Market.  It's little wonder that so many British businesses, large and small, say that they want us to stay - and warn that to leave would be a disaster.

The biggest single market in the world

Membership means businesses in the South East can sell their products to 500 million customers - because the EU is the largest single market in the world.  If you work for a business that sells products overseas, then chances are that you benefit from being part of the EU and selling to that enormous market.  Nearly half of all UK exports are sold into the EU - that's more than to anywhere else in the world.  The figure is even higher for small and medium-sized businesses that sell overseas: for them, a massive 88% of their exports go to the EU. European Foreign Direct Investment from businesses into the UK is worth £543.7 billion. If we were to leave the EU, it’s predicted the UK would eventually lose 2.25% of GDP, mainly because there would be less FDI flowing into the UK and the South East.

One in every ten UK jobs

Access to that single market isn't just an abstract idea: it's what persuades big international companies to decide they want to set up shop in the South East of England, and what allows small local businesses to get started in the first place and then keep growing.  And more business in the South East means more jobs in the South East.  Across the UK as a whole, experts estimate that around more than three million jobs in the UK are linked to our trade with the EU - that's more than one job in every ten in the UK. Here in Kent, research suggests that up to 86,629 jobs could be dependent on trade with the EU*.

 

Constituency

Estimated jobs as at 1997

Estimated jobs now

Ashford

5,058

5943

Canterbury

4,207

4943

Chatham & Aylesford

4,487

5272

Dartford

5,610

6592

Dover

3,007

3533

Faversham & Mid Kent

3,196

3755

Folkestone & Hythe

4,175

4906

Gillingham

         3,394

    3,988

 

 

 

 

 

 

Constituency

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estimated jobs as at 1997

 

 

 

 

 

 

Estimated jobs now

Gravesham

3,345

3930

Maidstone&The Weald

5,892

6923

Medway

6,224

7313

North Thanet

2,425

2849

Sevenoaks

3,423

4022

Sittingbourne&Sheppey

5,410

6357

South Thanet

3,995

4694

Tonbridge & Malling

5,266

6188

Tunbridge Wells

4,614

5421

Kent total

73,728

86,629

 

Businesses want us to stay

With all these advantages, it's little wonder the vast majority of British businesses want to stay in the EU.  When the Confederation of British Industry, a group which brings together huge numbers of British businesses, asked its members what they thought, 71% said that being in the EU had an overall positive impact on their business - and 78% said they would vote to stay in.  In manufacturing the figure is even higher - with 85% of EEF (the manufacturers’ organisation) members saying they would vote to stay.  But this is not just the view of big, UK-wide businesses.  When the Surrey Chambers of Commerce held an event in Guilford earlier this year, 170 out of the 172 businesses who attended said they wanted to stay in the EU.  The Chief Executive of Siemens UK has said that leaving the EU would be “disastrous” for British manufacturing, saying “There are 2,350 businesses in our automotive supply chain, which are dependent for their prosperity on foreign-owned car manufacturers, half of whose exports go to the EU. At Siemens we have calculated that 25,000 jobs in the supply chain are dependent on UK operations, many of which are in small or medium-sized British businesses that often export to the EU through us.”

What happens if we leave?

Economists talk in terms of Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, which measures the total amount that a country is producing every year.  If GDP is going up, things look good for the country - more money to go round, more jobs, and a better standard of life. If GDP is going down, we get what has become all too familiar recently - fewer jobs, lower wages and people struggling to make ends meet.  Leaving the EU would almost certainly mean a significant fall in GDP.  In the best case scenario, experts think our economy would shrink by over 2%.  In the worst case scenario, it could be more like 7-9% - which is how much GDP fell by as a result of the global financial crisis. 

* These figures are all based on ONS statistics. First, I took constituency-by-constituency figures from a report produced by Brian Ardy, Iain Begg and Dermot Hodson in 1997 called ‘UK Jobs dependent on the EU’. These have then all been increased by 17.5% for the current day (with any fractions of a job, rounded up from 0.5). The 17.5% is from research from the Centre for Economic and Business Research released last year, which suggested that since 1997 there has been an increase of 17.5% in the number of jobs in the South East dependent on trade with the rest of the EU. Please note that the figures are given in relation to 1997 parliamentary constituencies, so if the boundaries of your constituency have changed since then, you will need to take this into account when talking about the figures.