More than half of UK firms fear hit from post-Brexit immigration plan

Pedro Gonçalves
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More than half of UK firms fear hit from post-Brexit immigration plan

UK businesses with staff from outside the UK will be squeezed further by the Government's new immigration plans, according to research.

Over half of UK businesses with migrant staff would be negatively impacted by the proposals, according to new research by the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC) and jobs site Indeed.

The survey of 380 businesses that currently employ non-EU nationals saw 53% of firms say they would be squeezed by the plans to require all skilled migrant workers to earn a minimum of £30,000 once the UK leaves the EU.

Businesses in many sectors are finding it increasingly difficult to hire workers with the right skills"

Almost two thirds (57%) said they would be affected by plans to impose a 12-month work and residency limit on low-skilled migrants, which would require these workers to leave the UK for at least a year after their visa expires.

"Businesses in many sectors are finding it increasingly difficult to hire workers with the right skills," Pawel Adrjan, an economist at Indeed, said.

"Like in any open economy, migration flows are one way to release that pressure valve but as our survey found, new proposals do not appear to flex and breathe depending on employers' needs," Adrjan said.

The healthcare and construction sectors in particular needed more flexibility, he added.

Businesses are also concerned about an extension to the Immigration Skills Charge for EU nationals, which is currently paid by employers for each worker they recruit from outside the EU. Just over a third (34%) feared this would add to the upfront costs of employment.

Currently, firms pay the charge for each migrant worker they recruit from outside the EU, but this could be extended after Brexit. Immigration and tightening migration regulations was one of driving factors behind Britain's decision to leave the EU in the first place.

Businesses also reported a need for access to foreign language skills, with 23% highlighting a need to German and Mandarin Chinese speakers.

Concern from businesses comes after a period of low unemployment, with businesses across sectors reporting difficulties in recruiting for new roles.

Ursula von der Leyen, the nominee to become the next European Commission chief, has told MEPs she hopes the UK abandons its plans for Brexit.

"I still hope you remain," she said, warning the British authorities to "sort its side of things on Brexit". Von der Leyen was speaking at a European Parliament hearing ahead of a vote on her nomination.

A no-deal Brexit would cause the pound to plummet and be worth the same as the dollar, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has said. This would be "devastating" for Virgin, and force the group to shift investment out of the UK, he said.

 

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