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City reacts to migration report

London’s business community has given its verdict on the publication of the keenly-awaited Migration Advisory Committee report on EEA migration, arguing that businesses need to “employ the right people at the right location”.

"Brexit

October 2018

The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) has released its report on the impact of EEA migration in the UK. The report, commissioned by former home secretary Amber Rudd, argued that the UK should not give preferential treatment to EU workers in its post-Brexit immigration system but should prioritise the higher-skilled.

Other recommendations include:

  • Abolition of the cap on the number of migrants under the Tier 2 general visa scheme
  • If EEA migrants are brought within the Tier 2 visa scheme, it should be extended to medium-skilled workers to avoid harmful skills shortages
  • Maintain existing annual salary thresholds for migrants to obtain Tier 2 visas, currently £30,000 
  • Retain but review the immigration skills fee
  • Consider abolishing the ‘Resident Labour Market Test’
  • Avoid sector-based schemes for lower-skilled workers, with the possible exception of a seasonal agricultural workers scheme

City of London Corporation Policy Chairman Catherine McGuinness said: “Access to global talent is a critical issue for the financial and related professional services industry. More than one in four people working in banking and finance in London are non-UK citizens, with EU citizens helping to fill almost 17% of jobs across the sector.

“Businesses need to be able to employ the right people in the right location. This matters for fast-growing fintech firms requiring specialist coding expertise, as well as more established international institutions looking to transfer highly skilled staff in to the UK for specific projects.”

Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of London First accused the MAC of missing the mark by failing to recognise the critical role of lower skilled workers in the economy. She said: “Businesses want access to high and medium level skills from around the globe, as the MAC rightly recognises, but this can’t be at the experience of having enough workers to keep our hospitals, care homes, hotels and building sites up and running.

“We can’t bring the shutters down at a time when skills shortages are rife and there simply aren’t enough British workers to fill these roles.”

Separately, the large accountancy firms are reviewing whether or not to pay the mooted £65 charge for their EU workers that wish to settle in the UK post-Brexit. While it is understood that at least one of the major firms would pay the charge on behalf of its EU employees, others are adopting a wait-and-see approach. A spokesperson for EY said: “We are currently evaluating our position as part of our ongoing endeavour to do all we can to inform and guide staff as appropriate.” PwC, KPMG and Deloitte declined to comment.

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