UK businesses call for post-brexit immigration rules to be relaxed

The UK will officially leave the EU next week. And with this, it plans to end freedom of movement and, instead, focus on attracting high-skilled workers to the UK using a system similar to the Australian ‘points-based’ immigration system.

However, business leaders in the UK have urged the government to relax some of its proposed rules for this system – in particular, the minimum income threshold it’s planning to implement.

Under the advice of the Migration Advisory Committee, the government is planning to introduce a minimum salary requirement of £30,000 (€36,000) for skilled migrants applying for a five-year visa.

However, according to a survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), many believe this figure is too high. The results of the survey show that 35% of small business that hire high-skilled workers offer salaries of under £30,000.

In addition, over 80% of respondents said they couldn’t afford to hire high-skilled staff with this being threshold, and 58% said that this should be lowered, especially in cases where there’s a shortage of workers with the skills they need and they are struggling to fill the position.

FSB Chairman Mike Cherry said, “With overheads for small firms mounting – not least due to rising business rates, utility bills and wider staff costs – the extension of the £30,000 threshold threatens to cause serious disruption to a labour market already beset by skills shortages and limited vacancies.

The first response of small business owners to rising wages is generally to cut their own pay – they can only cut so far though. The potential inflexibility of the threshold… will leave those who rely on international talent incredibly concerned for the future,” he added, saying that “the £30,000 figure has to be looked at again, and a more sensible threshold of £20,100 rolled-out for skilled workers.”

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