Menu

Service sector leaders warn leaving Europe would "put jobs at risk"

The heads of leading services companies employing hundreds of thousands of people today warn that jobs in their booming sector would be put at risk by a vote to Leave the EU on June 23.

  • The service sectors include Britain’s biggest employers. Over 25 million people work in service industries, including retail, hospitality, transport, professional and financial services.
  • Today the leaders of companies and organisations from each of the biggest services sectors have warned that Brexit would “damage the UK’s thriving service sector and put jobs at risk”.
  • The business leaders include the Chairmen and CEOs of firms including BT, Ocado, HSBC, Compass, Adecco, and PwC.
  • Insurance industry leaders also warn that job losses are highly likely amongst the 34,000 people employed directly in London’s commercial insurance sector.
  • Chancellor George Osborne to warn that within two years, the impact of leaving the EU would be that 400,000 services sector jobs would be lost compared to if Britain remains in the UK.
  • New independent economic analysis today demonstrates the importance of EU and single market membership to services trade. It finds membership of the single market is responsible for up to £68bn a year in services exports. 

Senior figures from employers and organisations representing the ten biggest services sectors – including financial services, professional and business services, telecommunications, food and recruitment - said it was clear that ‘a vote to Leave would damage the UK’s thriving service sector and put jobs at risk’.
 
Chancellor George Osborne will hail services as ‘great British success story’ and step up his challenge to the Leave campaign, saying it is ‘simply dishonest’ to pretend that there would be anything other than extended period of uncertainty, permanent damage to the economy and a threat to jobs if Britain votes to Leave the EU on June 23rd.
 
‘Today I challenge the Leave campaign to admit that jobs would be lost if we vote to leave the EU and the single market,’ he is expected to say on a visit to a business on the south coast.
 
‘Today some of our leading firms have come together to say that they believe that a vote to leave the EU would damage the UK's thriving service sector and put jobs at risk.
 
‘It would be simply dishonest to go on claiming that people’s jobs won’t be lost by a vote to leave the EU.
 
‘The Leave campaign should come clean with the British people. 
 
‘This isn’t about numbers on a spreadsheet, but working people’s jobs and aspirations. 
 
‘It’s not a price worth paying. That’s what this referendum is all about.’
 
The Chancellor will say 400,000 jobs in the services sector are forecast to be lost over the next two years if there is a vote to Leave, compared to what is otherwise expected.
 
The services sector – which employs 25 million people in the UK – is particularly reliant on cross-border trade and investment and would be badly affected by a Leave vote.
 
Britain is now the world’s second largest exporter of services in the world.
 
Most services industries rely on cross-border trade and supply chains, so would be hardest hit by an exit from the EU and the world’s largest free trade single market.
 
Overall, sectors accounting for almost half of UK services exports to the EU would face significant impediments if Britain left the EU and was able to negotiate a trade agreement with the remaining 27 member states, along the lines of that which has taken Canada seven years to agree and has still not been implemented.
 
Far from being concentrated in London, the local economies of most towns and cities in the UK are dependent on services. For instance, more than 20 towns and cities employ more than 10,000 people in financial services.
 
Overall, 2,050,000 jobs across the UK are linked to the UK services sector’s exports to other EU countries. Services account for 79 per cent of the UK economy – contributing £1,300 billion – and have grown from 67 per cent of the economy in the early 1990s. The sector employs an extraordinary 25 million people.
 
Chairmen and CEOs of firms including BT, HSBC, Compass, Adecco, and PwC, between them employing hundreds of thousands of people in the UK, today support a joint statement supporting the Remain campaign.
 
It says: ‘Britain’s service sector includes everything from retail to the arts, from finance to education, and from hotels to architects. It accounts for around 80% of value added and 80% of employment, making it the jewel in the crown of British industries. As the leaders of some of Britain's biggest service businesses we believe that a vote to leave the EU would damage the UK's thriving service sector and put jobs at risk. We want to ensure that Britain remains a leader in this vital field, and that is why we support the UK remaining in the EU on June 23.’
 
The International Underwriting Association of London, Lloyds and Richard Brindle, group chief executive officer of Fidelis, today warn of job losses and a significant risk to business in the insurance market if Britain votes to leave.
 
They conclude that job losses are highly likely amongst the 34,000 people employed directly in London’s commercial insurance sector.
 
A report published today by Frontier Economics for the business group London First also warns of significant damage to UK services businesses if Britain leaves the single market and negotiates alternative trade arrangements.
 
It concludes that membership of the EU’s single market is responsible for between £36 billion and £68 billion in services exports.

Signatories to the statement are:
 
Douglas Flint & Stuart Gulliver, chairman & CEO, HSBC
Gavin Patterson, CEO, BT Group
Glenn Earlam, CEO, David Lloyd Leisure
Paul Walsh & Richard Cousins, chairman & CEO, Compass Group (in a personal capacity)
Ian Powell, chairman & senior partner, PwC
John Marshall, chief executive, Adecco Group UK & Ireland
Tim Steiner, CEO, Ocado
Nicola Dandridge CBE, chief executive, Universities UK
Luis Arriaga, managing director, UPS UK Ltd
David Joseph CBE, chairman & CEO, Universal Music UK