UK immigration plans «disastrous» for British economy

London / UK. (eb) This week British Home Secretary Priti Patel launched a new points-based immigration system. The new system, which takes effect from 01 January 2021, will end free movement, reassert control of the borders and restore public trust.

It will assign points for specific skills, qualifications, salaries or professions and visas will only be awarded to those who gain enough points. The new single global system will treat EU and non-EU citizens equally. It will give top priority to those with the highest skills and the greatest talents, including scientists, engineers and academics – the British Government published in a news release.

«The announcement is a significant improvement on previous proposals for skilled workers. FDF and its members will welcome the introduction of a global talent route, and the reduction of the skilled worker salary threshold is a step in the right direction. It is also encouraging to see the commitment to streamline the system, but it must also be made accessible and affordable for businesses of all sizes, many of whom won’t have used the immigration system before,» says Mark Harrison, Policy Manager (Employment and Access to Labour) at British Food and Drink Federation (FDF).

FDF concerns about access to low-skilled employees

«The food and drink industry is reliant on workers at all skill levels. We have concerns about access to those potential employees who won’t qualify through these ‘skilled’ routes such as bakery assistants, meat processors, and workers essential to the production of huge array of basic foodstuffs such as cheese, pasta, and sausages. While we are committed to promoting the use of automation and technology in our sector, the benefits of such innovations will not be felt overnight and some food chain roles remain challenging to automate. With the UK experiencing historically low unemployment rates and high vacancy levels, we believe a route for entry-level workers should be introduced which retains control of immigration while also supporting business needs, incentivising upskilling, and boosting productivity.»

Immigration proposals fail to meet Government’s own objectives

Commenting on the British Government’s proposed new immigration system, UKHospitality Chief Executive Kate Nicholls said: «Ruling out a temporary, low-skilled route for migration in just 10 months’ time will be disastrous for the hospitality sector and the British people. Business must be given time to adapt.

«These proposals will cut off future growth and expansion and deter investment in Britain’s high streets. It will lead to reduced levels of service for customers and business closures. Hospitality is already facing an acute labour shortage, despite investing significantly in skills, training and increasing apprenticeships for the domestic workforce. We are facing record low levels of unemployment, a dip in young people entering the labour market and have the highest vacancy levels of any sector.

«This announcement fails to recognise that hospitality is at the heart of every community in the UK. Damaging the hospitality sector will have a knock-on effect for schoolchildren and the elderly who rely on the sector for their meals. The Government says it is making allowances for staff in the NHS, but it has totally ignored the catering companies who supply the meals to patients and staff.

«We understand the Government’s desire to deliver on the referendum result and its aim of moving to a skills-based immigration system. We fully support the ambition to upskill the domestic population and provide opportunities for people in every part of the UK. These proposals fail to deliver on the Government’s own objective of providing an immigration system which works for the UK’s economy and its people.»