After almost two years of delay, the government has published its vision for post-Brexit immigration. Positive progress was made with further consultation on level of the salary threshold, ambition to make the system less bureaucratic for employers and lifting the cap on skilled visas.
But serious concerns remain over the proposed 12-month temporary route for lower-skilled workers and retention of the £1,000 per worker, per year charge on employers.
Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said:
"The Government cannot indulge in selective hearing. It tunes in to business evidence on a disastrous Brexit no deal, but tunes out from the economic damage of draconian blocks on access to vital overseas workers.
"The facts are clear. Brexit is cutting off the ability to recruit and retain staff for 9 out of 10 firms. Despite firms spending over £45 billion in training each year, staff shortages are already biting. Hospitals, housebuilders and retailers are all struggling to find the people they need at salaries well below £30,000.
"These proposals must change. And when a new system that will work is agreed, the UK must be given time to adapt. This means at least two years to implement the changes after the rules are finalised.
"Further consultation is needed to get this right for the whole of the UK, otherwise calls for devolved and regional immigration policies will only grow louder."
On the Government’s proposal for lower-skilled visas, Josh said:
"All skill levels matter to the UK economy. A temporary 12-month route for overseas workers earning under £30,000 would encourage firms to hire a different person each year. That needlessly increases costs and discourages migrants from integrating into local communicates – a key social concern. It’s not good for the public or business."
The CBI’s analysis below includes a ‘Red, Amber, Green (RAG) rating’ and summary of the key proposals for business.