CBI boss

Businesses Bite Back as Pressure Mounts for a Workable Immigration System

Leading industry bodies dotted all across the UK have joined forces with the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to offer their insight into how the proposed post-Brexit immigration rules will affect business and ways to overcome the projected shortfalls.

Over 30 lobby groups that represent hundreds of thousands of businesses in the UK have added their signatures to a letter addressed to Home Secretary, Priti Patel on 24 January. The letter demands a “fair and sustainable” immigration system must be in place after Brexit and that the rules must not starve them of workers and talent.

“The economy needs a simple, streamlined and affordable system that meets business’ needs of all sizes, sectors and across all UK regions and nations.”

CBI’s letter of immigration priorities

The letter sent by the CBI sets out four key priorities that any immigration system must adhere to in order to protect UK businesses.

The first is the introduction of a minimum salary threshold that “supports the economy and protects wages”. The letter recommends the “tried and tested formula” of a £20,100 financial requirement as this would “protect wages and ensure that shortages in jobs such as technicians, carpenters, translators and care-home managers can be addressed.”

UK businesses are under threat from Brexit
British businesses demand the Home Office creates a workable immigration system that meets industries needs. [Image: Ali Yaqub].

In addition, the letter outlines greater flexibility for skilled workers to enter the country by taking work experience and qualifications into account and the implementation of an additional, temporary visa route.

It also demands a “radically reformed sponsorship process” since the UK’s current sponsorship model is overly convoluted for most businesses to navigate, but essential for them to do so in order to hire foreign talent. Business groups in recent years have lobbied to axe the need for sponsorship altogether.

The letter does note that Boris Johnson’s recent announcement to drop the £30,000 minimum salary requirement for those seeking a Work Visa, the abolition of net migration targets and the introduction of a Post-Study Work Visa for international graduates in the UK has “increased optimism” into how the immigration rules will function.

Business boss, Carolyn Fairbairn
CBI boss, Carolyn Fairbairn, has rallied relentlessly against a No Deal Brexit and the implications such an exit would have on the UK economy. [Image: Andy Rain/EPA/The Guardian].

“It [has] sent positive and important signals around the world that the UK is open for business”, it notes.

At the moment, Europeans can continue to exercise their Free Movement rights in the UK by coming to live, work or retire in the country. However, they will need to register for Settled or Pre-Settled Status before the deadline which coincides with the post-Brexit immigration rules that come immediately into effect as of 1 January 2021.

It isn’t the first-time businesses have warned the loss of Free Movement is particularly short-sighted to maintaining and recruiting staff, which in turn implicates grave profit losses and an even wider deficit to the British economy as a whole. This is mainly driven by the post-Brexit immigration rules that was published under former Prime Minister, Theresa May, in 2018. In the absence of updated information, it has been a long held suspicion that foreign workers will need to earn £30,000 to be eligible for a Work Visa in the UK after Brexit, similarly to that of non-EU international workers today.

It isn’t the first-time businesses have warned the loss of Free Movement is particularly short-sighted to maintaining and recruiting staff

The letter continued: “The economy needs a simple, streamlined and affordable system that meets business’ needs of all sizes, sectors and across all UK regions and nations.

We look forward to working with the new government to inform the detailed design of a new immigration system in a way that commands public confidence and supports the UK’s global ambitions”.

Those who have signed the letter include the Advertising Association, British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), the British Constructional Steelwork Association (BCSA), Federation of Master Builders (FMB), techUK, UK Fashion & Textile Association (UKFT), the Motorsport Industry Association (MIA) and UK Hospitality among many others.

Written by
Olivia Bridge
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