After almost two years of delay, the Government has published its immigration White Paper.
Immigration was a key issue during the referendum campaign, but over two years on employers have received little clarity about the future immigration system. In December the Government published its long-awaited immigration White Paper, which sets out initial proposals for a new system after Brexit. Despite the CBI securing several important concessions, the proposals still fall short of meeting the UK’s needs. CBI Deputy Director-General, Josh Hardie, described them as “a sucker punch for many firms right across the country” as the proposals do not give firms the same option to recruit and retain staff.
However, in a welcome step that the CBI had campaigned for, the Government did not accept the independent Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation to retain the £30,000 salary threshold. Instead Government will consult further with business before setting the threshold.
There were also positive proposals to lower the skills threshold, make the system less bureaucratic for employers and lift the cap on skilled visas. However serious concerns remain over the proposed 12-month temporary route for lower-skilled workers, retention of the £1,000 per year per worker charge on employers, and continued policy goal to reduce net migration to the “tens of thousands”.
The White Paper marks the start of a 12-month programme of direct engagement by Government with business across the UK. As well as helping to facilitate this, the CBI will be carrying out its own extensive consultation with members to inform our official response. Please look out for further details on how to ensure your voice is heard shortly.