This FSB report highlights how small businesses and the solo self-employed would be affected by, and respond to, restrictions to the free movement of people as a result of Brexit.

This report comes as a result of in-depth surveys with small businesses, describing the uncomfortable issues that small firms face over the current and future availability of an EU workforce. The publication also outlines the importance of the availability of goods, services and capital currently afforded to small business in the UK, and the drastic effects that restricted access would have on future business ventures.


  • 72% of small businesses with EU staff recruited all their workers when they were already living in the UK, increasing to 85 per cent for small businesses that employed at least some of their EU workers from the UK.
  • 75% of employers with non-UK staff would be unwilling to pay any additional one-off cost to recruit workers from the EU (41%) or do not know how much they would be willing to pay (34%). For the remaining 25%, the average small employer with non-UK staff would be willing to pay about £250 extra in a one-off cost to recruit each EU worker.
  • If an Immigration Skills charge were to be implemented for EEA workers (similar to that of non-EEA workers), small businesses would largely be unable to recruit staff from outside of the UK to fill specialist roles, meaning productivity and international competitiveness would be lost.
  • Over half (59%) of small businesses with EU workers are concerned about accessing people with the skills they need post-Brexit, and 57% are worried about satisfying their demand for labour
  • ‘They were the best candidate for the role’ is a key reason (42%) for small businesses recruiting EU citizens.

To read more work from FSB, visit their website