Home Secretary reviews numbers
Javid’s immigration rethink eases skills shortage fears
Sajid Javid: reviewing migrant numbers
Businesses have welcomed new Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s promise to look again at the immigration system and allowing more skilled workers from outside the EU to come to the UK.
Mr Javid said he is working towards reducing net migration and bringing it to lower sustainable levels. He may also ease restrictions on students and may remove them from the figures altogether when counting annual migration figures.
The potential lifting of restrictions is being seen as a boost for the technology sector, and has been welcomed in fintech circles.
Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce, said: “The Home Secretary’s commitment to taking a fresh look at the immigration rules will be cheered by employers all across the UK. The system as it stands is dysfunctional, expensive and a brake on growth.
“The Home Secretary should start by scrapping the nonsensical cap on skilled workers, which hamstrings both fast-growing firms and the public services.
“He should then act swiftly to combat the perception that the UK is closed for business – by stripping back the bureaucracy and costs that make it hard for firms to hire the best talent from around the world.”
Eileen Burbidge, the Treasury’s special envoy for fintech, told The Daily Telegraph that the visa scheme is “failing to keep pace with our industry’s needs”.
“Between December 2017 and March 2018 some 1,226 IT and tech sector professionals were turned down for visas, mostly because the number of people applying exceeded the monthly limit allowed to enter the UK,” she said.
“The fact that we have more skilled people wanting to contribute to the UK economy is a good thing. The fact that we refuse them visas because of an outdated cap is not.”
The latest net migration figures show the number of people moving to the UK outstripped those leaving by 244,000 in the year ending September 2017 – down from a high of more than 300,000 in 2015 and 2016, but firmly above levels seen in 2012 and 2013.
The inclusion of students when counting towards the net migration target has long been controversial, as their residency is largely temporary. In addition it has been argued it is counter-productive to teach students in the UK, then encourage them to leave after graduation instead of using their new skills and knowledge to work in Britain.
Mr Javid’s softening on immigration comes as Prime Minister Theresa May faces further pressure to reach a deal on Britain’s exit from the EU amid fresh allegations that the UK would suffer immediate hardship if no deal is reached.
The country risks food, fuel and medicine shortages, according to a report in The Sunday Times, based n documents drawn up by civil servants.
One scenario – below the so-called Armageddon level – warns that “the port of Dover will collapse on day one. The supermarkets in Cornwall and Scotland will run out food within a couple of days, and hospitals will run out of medicines within two weeks.”
The SNP’s Foreign Affairs and Europe spokesperson, Stephen Gethins MP, said: “These worrying warnings are just the latest in a growing list of findings which highlight the severity and absurdity of the UK government’s approach to leaving the EU.
“With each day that passes it becomes clear that the cavalier attitude of the hard Brexiteers in Theresa May’s Cabinet is a danger to us all. “