SMEs voice concerns on immigration policy

Posted on 20 Feb 2020 and read 550 times
SMEs voice concerns on immigration policyResponding to the recent report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) regarding the minimum salary threshold relating to immigrants, Mike Cherry, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB), said: “The recommendation to lower the proposed minimum salary threshold to £25,600 is a welcome pro-business proposal, which would widen the scope for employing those beyond highly paid professions.

“It is vital that the workers and skills needed for the UK’s economy to grow are not locked out by a future immigration system that is unresponsive to business needs.

“One in five small employers in the UK have at least one staff member from the EU.”

FSB (www.fsb.org.uk) research shows that four-in-five small employers that hire staff for jobs classed as mid-skilled are offering salaries less than £30,000. This includes positions in sectors such as engineering and IT.

“The recommendation for a route to the UK without a job offer is also positive, but this must be open to mid-skilled workers and not restricted to highly paid professionals.

“It should allow smaller businesses in all regions, nations and sectors to recruit the people with the skills they need.

“It is pleasing to see that the committee has listened to FSB’s arguments for a salary threshold below £30,000, as well as an unsponsored route, which selects migrants based on their personal characteristics and allows for regional variation.”

Meanwhile, Roger Pollen — head of external affairs for FSB NI — has called for the Government to ensure that the future migration system is ‘fit for purpose’ for the Northern Ireland economy.

“The suggested reduction in the salary threshold for employing skilled migrant workers is a step in the right direction, but there remains a need for a bespoke system for Northern Ireland.

“The report correctly identifies that the economic position of Northern Ireland is ‘distinctive’, and that the matter of a specific salary threshold is worthy of ‘future consideration’.

“We would urge the Government to take this into account when reviewing the MAC’s recommendations. Given that Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU regulations for goods after Brexit, and businesses here will compete for labour on an all-Ireland basis, it is crucial that the immigration system is suitably flexible for small businesses to meet their skills needs.”

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