The UK government will pay business bodies to broker deals in foreign countries to allow City workers to more easily work overseas post-Brexit.
The new Recognition Arrangements Grants Programme will see payments of up to £75,000 given to professional bodies and regulators, for industries such as accounting and legal services, to pursue mutual recognition of qualifications deals.
The new policy was described by Labour last night as “an expensive scramble”.
The UK lost its wide-ranging access to EU financial markets post-Brexit, with barriers also erected for City firms wanting to send workers to the continent.
Most UK-based City firms prepared for this by sending thousands of people and billions of pounds worth of resources to European capitals between 2016 and 2020.
The government now wants services bodies, like the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) for example, to further overseas access for UK firms by brokering mutual recognition of professional qualification deals with their equivalent overseas bodies.
Business minister Lord Martin Callanan said: “The UK’s professional qualifications are rightly widely recognised as a gold standard for diligence, professionalism, and proficiency around the world.
“By creating our Recognition Arrangements Grants Programme, we are supporting regulators to build on this well-deserved reputation for excellence by agreeing recognition of professional qualifications with countries across the EU, ultimately making it easier for our lawyers, surveyors, accountants, and others to work in the EU and elsewhere.”
UK services workers automatically had their qualifications recognised across the EU pre-Brexit, however they now have to navigate the laws of each individual country.
The UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal set up a mechanism to allow mutual recognition deals to be struck on a case-by-case basis.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has vowed to negotiate a comprehensive UK-EU deal on mutual recognition of professional qualifications if he wins the next election.
Shadow business secretary Jonathan Reynolds said the government has been “warned” that its slow approach to this issue post-Brexit has “left British professionals at a disadvantage”.
“Labour will make Brexit work, deliver on the opportunities Britain has and seek mutual recognition of professional qualifications to enable our world-leading service industries to do business in the EU,” Reynolds said.