No curbs on highly skilled staff, vows Hammond

They were made about bankers, but the chancellor’s comments last week will reassure those in the IT contractor sector calling for immigration policy to reflect businesses’ skills needs.

Facing the Treasury Select Committee, Philip Hammond said he “cannot conceive of any circumstances” in which skilled workers from abroad would face curbs on coming to Britain.

So banks and other firms with “highly skilled workers” will not face restrictions when importing such workers, once immigration controls upon leaving the EU have been set.

Mr Hammond also told the committee that his talks with financial firms have showed them to be “realistic” about the potential loss of establishment passports, as they are “looking at other options.”

Coming ahead of Autumn Statement 2016, the chancellor’s comments show that he is aware that financial firms fear Brexit will result in the loss of their passporting rights to do business freely across the single market.

Separately, Mr Hammond has also been making headlines since he scrapped George Osborne’s flagship plan to let pensioners sell their retirement annuities, citing concerns about value for money.

This latest attempt by the current chancellor to disassociate himself from the plans of his predecessor will raise the hope that widely criticised IR35 proposals, unveiled by Mr Osborne, may be another of Mr Hammond’s U-turns.

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