Net Migration – Update

David Cameron has announced that the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) will consider new measures to reduce demand for migrant labour from outside the EU.

During last week’s Prime Minister’s Questions, David Cameron proposed new restrictions on work visas, and a higher salary threshold before people from outside the EU are allowed into the UK, with the aim to reduce the numbers significantly. Of course, the Government is powerless to prevent migrant labour from inside the EU coming to work in the UK. It could be argued that is, in reality, where any problem with net migration stems from. It could be argued the government has the wrong target in its sights.

The PM’s statement follows the first meeting of his newly-formed Immigration Taskforce. This has been tasked with reducing net migration and focuses on the domestic measures that the government can take to achieve this.

It could be argued this move (of creating a Taskforce) smacks of increased political interference into the business of companies doing their best to find the best talent to help them grow. It could also be argued it demonstrates to the talent outside the EU that the UK is putting up more barriers and is making it increasingly difficult to recruit talent from outside the EU.

According to the PM, the Advisory Committee will consider:

  • restricting work visas to genuine skills shortages and highly specialist experts;
  • putting a time limit on how long a sector can claim to have a skills shortage;
  • a new skills levy on Tier 2 visas to boost funding to UK apprenticeships;
  • raising salary thresholds to stop businesses using foreign (we presume this means non-EU) workers to undercut wages.

Whilst the bulk of the MAC’s proposals will be delivered by the end of the year (which suggest an intention to introduce new rules in April 2016), the Home Secretary has asked it to fast track proposals on raising the salary thresholds of Tier 2 visas in time for the Autumn Immigration Rule changes.

Tom Redfern