Think-tank echoes creatives’ concerns over Brexit immigration plan

Strong reservations from the creative industry about the post-Brexit immigration policy package that the government looks set to adopt have been loudly echoed by a think-tank.

In fact, fresh from the package being labelled restrictive and unreflective, a 12-month only visa and a £30k ‘skilled’ salary threshold have come in for short shrift from Global Future. 

The think-tank says both proposed policies will be part of a £1billon bill that it says UK firms will have to fork out if the package, outlined in December’s Whitepaper, goes ahead.

'Intense bureaucracy'

It explained: “For the first time, tens of thousands of European workers will need to navigate the intense bureaucracy of the Home Office’s visa system – costing their employers £1.14bn in five years.

“Hundreds of billions of pounds would churn from key public services back to the Home Office. And if the NHS is allowed to recruit the migrant workers it says it needs, the health service alone could face £580m in costs.”

But this is not the only worrying ‘churn’ flagged up in Global Future’s report ‘Closing the Door: The True Cost of the Immigration White Paper.’

'No sensible rationale'

“A one-year visa creates needless churn in workplaces, reducing productivity, and discourages integration,” it says, referring to the 12-month capped permits.

“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.”

In line with concerns from the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), the think-tank believes the £30,000 salary threshold – above which workers will be deemed ‘skilled’ – is unsuitable.

'Difficult for businesses'

“More than two thirds of jobs in the UK workforce wouldn’t qualify as ‘skilled’ under the government’s plans,” it says.

“The threshold would leave over 100,000 unfilled jobs…and cause the total EU workforce to shrink by 2025 – making it very difficult for businesses to survive and expand.”

Further finding common ground with the CIF, which believes the uniqueness of the creative industry is unrecognised by the plans, the report talks of the proposed visa system being designed ‘without considering the needs of keys sectors.’

'Great harm'

“[The visa system’s proposed] 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.”

Global Future recommended the government abandon the “crude” £30k salary threshold (in favour of a lower figure), and redesign the temporary work scheme to fit employers’ needs in way that will promote social cohesion.

It warns: “If the government remains committed to ending free movement and pursuing policies broadly in line with its White Paper proposals, a number of vital changes are needed to avoid the policy inflicting great harm on Britain’s economy and society.”

 

14th February 2019

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