In an article for The Times, before the latest statistics were released, CBI Chief UK Policy Director Matthew Fell, argued rushing in a new immigration system would be rash.
We could be just a year a way from the biggest change to UK immigration in nearly 30 years – and yet analysis of these quarterly statistics focus on the numbers and not the contribution made by workers from overseas, particularly the EU, both socially and economically, he said.
“It’s important for our public finances, and our public services, that this continues.”
He added that it’s not just about workers. “The UK’s higher education system is rightly admired worldwide, highly sought after by international and EU students who make an invaluable contribution.
“Therefore it’s high time there was a greater focus on constructing a new immigration system that meets the needs of our economy while building public confidence. One that matches openness with control.”
“For business, allowing firms to access the people and skills they need is as important as forging our future trading relationship with the EU, the UK’s biggest trading partner by far. Yet alarmingly for companies across the UK, scant details exist about how this might work in practice,” he continued.
Matthew warned against a return to arbitrary targets, and about the importance of getting it right – first time. And he offered the following suggestions for the next government:
- Not to focus only on the “brightest and the best”. The UK needs lab technicians, as well as world-class scientists; labourers as well as architects. Mobility is as important to services as customs are to goods – and services makes up 80% of our economy.
- It’s about having the right checks and balances. Local areas experiences rising populations should receive more funding to ensure that immigration benefits their community too.
- Tweaks to the existing non-EU visa system without wholesale reform would be rash – the UK’s need for a single system that works for all nations and regions far outweighs anything done for political expediency.