Government gets 11th hour Brexit advice on immigration policy
The government has been handed some 11th hour Brexit advice on immigration and temporary work policies if Britain is to head-off a £1billon bill from visa and red tape costs.
Global Future says that even if the prime minister sticks broadly to December’s White Paper, vital tweaks are needed to avoid “inflicting great harm on Britain’s economy and society.”
So the £1bn bill, a “conservative” estimate (over a five-year period) arising from Home Office and visa-related costs facing UK employers, is only half the issue, the think-tank has told Theresa May.
'100,000 unfilled jobs'
Nonetheless to combat it, the proposed ‘skilled’ salary threshold of £30,000 (whereby the government prioritises those earning above it, regardless of sector), should not go ahead.
“More than two-thirds of jobs in the UK workforce wouldn’t qualify as ‘skilled’ under the government’s plans,” Global Future says. “The threshold would leave over 100,000 unfilled jobs”.
It would also cause the total EU workforce to shrink by the year 2025, the think-tank estimates, “making it very difficult for businesses to survive and expand.”
Instead, and as opposed to the ‘crude division between skilled and unskilled,’ the government should introduce targeted exemptions for ‘occupations which employers are struggling to fill.’
Similarly concerned for specific roles, the think-tanks says the government’s plan for 12-month visas for temporary workers from overseas (those from the EU will no longer receive preferential access) has been designed ‘without considering the needs of sectors most likely to use them.’
Global Future said: “Their strict rules mean migrants will be discouraged from settling into the local community and prevented from mastering their work -- leading to a risk of exactly the wage-undercutting and poor integration that opponents of immigration claim they are concerned about.”
Additional recommendations include exempting jobs on the Shortage Occupation List from the salary threshold (if at £30k or even another figure), and increasing temporary work visas from one-year to three years.
“A one-year visa creates needless churn in workplaces, reducing productivity, and discourages integration,’ says the think-tank in ‘Closing the Door: The True Cost of the Immigration White Paper.’
“The temporary work scheme should grant visas for three years to allow job progression and ensure cohesion. There is no sensible rationale for barring temporary workers from transferring to other routes. Workers on the temporary scheme should be permitted to switch to other visas where eligible.”