Cambridge University database to inform UK expats on Brexit progress

Published:  23 Feb at 6 PM
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As a much-needed response to confusing media coverage and the lack of concrete information from the UK government, Cambridge University researchers are creating a factual information database aimed at keeping UK expats in the EU informed about the Brexit process.

The new initiative will contain reliable and timely information in order to prevent UK expats making the wrong choices for their futures after Britain leaves the EU. It will be primarily aimed at retirees, small business owners, students and families living in EU member states, and is to be funded by the UK’s Economic and Social Research Council. Researchers are determined to provide trustworthy advice on a ‘one-stop shop’ basis with the help of charities and expat organisations.

The information will be widely sourced and verified from websites, media reports and advice services including financial, legal, healthcare and property advice sources, expat chat rooms, English language media outlets, blogs and even Facebook pages. According to researchers, expats’ fears and confusion are being exacerbated by online speculation, rumour, tabloid prejudices and the general information vacuum preferred at the present time by the British government. Expats over the age of 65 are believed to be the most affected group, especially on the subject of pensions.

According to lead researcher Dr Brendan Burchell, UK expats need empowerment in order to make the right decisions at this time, whether attempting to return to the UK or staying in their countries of choice. He told Cambridge News reporters the database should avoid expats being subjected to fake news or dangerous speculation and should also protect against retirees being scammed by crooks touting investments or lowball property sales.

Unfortunately, the database will not be directly available online, but can be reached through legal charities, government agencies and the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. The reason for this exclusivity is given as the avoidance of ‘exploitation by commercial and lobbying organisations’, but is likely to prove discouraging for expats overseas who need to examine available choices in their own time. In the past, government agencies and the CAB have received unfavourable comments from the public over the dissemination of critical information, possibly due to a lack of knowledge of crucial topics by employees manning the phones.

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