Editorial

UK tech start-ups begin Brexit emergency planning

‘Uncertainty over immigration policy pushes entrepreneurs to set up in Europe,’ says FT report

Posted 22 February 2018 by

A story in yesterday’s Financial Times strikes a grim note: that “prolonged uncertainty over the UK’s post-Brexit policies on immigration and passporting rights” is pushing British tech entrepreneurs and start-ups to strengthen their businesses in mainland Europe.

The article claims evidence of this trend from the fact that a payments company, Currencycloud, one of a “number” of such firms, has already started to trigger their Brexit contingency plans, establishing offices or applying for regulatory licenses outside the UK because of “concerns about hiring staff and accessing clients after Britain leaves the EU”.

Companies it says it’s talked to that are looking into these options include a number of London-based fintech firms including Ensygnia, Inploi, Cablato, Kantox, Ecoisme, Avespa, ETFmatic and Aire.

“While we’d love for the UK to have a soft Brexit, you can’t guarantee that,” it quotes a company representative from one firm as stating, who also told teh paper that, “Our concern is about how we service customers and how we make sure that w’re bringing the best talent into the organisation.”

The article – which also puts the size of the current UK tech sector at £170bn – says that despite government reassurances, smaller start-ups without the resources to support visa applications fear a “severe talent shortage” if they cannot rely on hiring developers from the EU.

It adds that 20% of tech jobs in London are filled by workers from the European Union, according to data from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation – a figure that falls to 7% of all tech roles, according to the government’s own figures.

“The market in the UK feels quite sour and i’s going to have an impact on our ability to hire people,” it quotes Matthew de la Hey, co-founder of Inploi, a platform for connecting employers with hospitality workers.

“We have found it much more difficult to do business in the UK [since the vote].”