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BRC urges speed on new immigration rules

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has called for the government to “not delay” publishing the UK’s new immigration system to avoid disruption for businesses and consumers.

In response to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report published yesterday, the BRC said the retail industry requires a workforce “across all skill levels”.

The MAC report suggested the minimum salary threshold of £30,000 should fall to £25,600 for all workers and advised against a points-based system.

A Home Office spokeswoman could not say whether the government would adopt the recommendations, but said the government would be introducing a points-based immigration system from 2021.

Director of business and regulation at the BRC Tom Ironside said: “With only 11 months to go before a new system is due to be implemented, we urge the government to publish the details of the UK’s new immigration system as soon as possible.

“There is little time for business to plan and adjust – government must not delay if they wish to avoid disruption to businesses and consumers.

“The operation of warehouses, food factories and city centre stores all benefit from the vital contribution from EU migrant workers. Where vacancies cannot be filled from the local labour market, retailers must be able to recruit from the widest talent pool available.

“It is important that any proposed salary threshold for those coming to the UK does not limit the industry’s access to vital workers in the supply chain.”

It echoes calls from UK manufacturers and suppliers, who this week expressed alarm about the uncertainty created by government plans for a new post-Brexit immigration regime and the possibility of a skills shortage.


Readers' comments (1)

  • The BRC is right to urge the Government not to delay. But there are issues with what the MAC has put forward.

    Notably, the MAC report makes little mention of so-called ‘lower skilled’ workers, including those on whom the fashion industry may be reliant for key skills the industry needs; the report suggests a temporary visa for these workers or reliance on sector based routes to address a low skilled shortage.

    In theory lowering of salary thresholds for new entrants, as recommended by the MAC, should make it possible for employers to sponsor individuals and fill the skills gap, but the very high costs associated with the immigration process may deter employers from sponsoring individuals to fill that gap. It is currently prohibitively expensive to sponsor an overseas worker, with costs including an immigration health surcharge increasing to £625 per year, a so-called immigration skills charge of up to £1000 per year per applicant and per family member, high entry visa fees, and a charge for the issue of work permits (Certificates of Sponsorship) – there is no indication from the MAC that it will be any less expensive for employers to access these vital skills, and there are substantial penalties they risk for non compliance.

    There is also little mention in the MAC report of the self-employed – since the end of Tier 1 (Entrepreneur), the options open to the self-employed are limited and the alternatives (Tier 1 Innovator and start-up visas) are both complex and untested. The report does mention Tier 1 (exceptional talent) which is open to the self employed, but the MAC’s view is that this is currently too narrow and not fit for purpose

    Sacha Schoenfeld
    Business immigration law
    Fox Williams LLP

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

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