Government immigration plan risks ‘profound damage’ to London economy, says Sadiq Khan

Government immigration plan risks ‘profound damage’ to London economy, says Sadiq Khan

A post-Brexit national immigration policy that prevented skilled overseas workers entering the country unless their jobs paid over £30,000 a year would see London businesses “struggle to fill thousands of key posts” in crucial sectors of the capital’s economy, according to London Mayor Sadiq Khan.

The Mayor said that the government’s proposed “skills-based” system for after free movement within the European Union ends – which will be set out in a White Paper today – “flies in the face” of what London businesses want and would hit recruitment in “crucial sectors” of the capital’s economy, including construction, social care, health, retail, hospitality and the creative industries.

“It makes absolutely no sense for the government to come forward with a one-size-fits-all policy for the whole country that simply won’t work for London,” the Mayor said, claiming that it “risks doing profound damage to growth, jobs and communities across London and the UK.”

Home Secretary Sajid Javid is expected to argue that the new arrangements would enable Britain to “get control over our borders” and focus on people’s “talent and expertise” rather than their nation of origin, a reference to the current different rules applied to immigrants from non-EU countries. It would be phased in from 2021 and scrap the existing 20,700 cap on very high-skilled workers such as doctors and engineers using Tier 2 visas.

Javid is to say that employers will still be able to bring in the workers they need and that a “single, skills-based immigration system” will demonstrate that the UK is “open for business”. But City Hall says that many of the jobs in London paying less than £30,000 a year are currently filled by non-UK EU workers, with approximately 46,000 members of its construction workforce (about 12 per cent) and 61,000 (around 25 per cent) in the accommodation and food sector.

London business groups have joined the Mayor in calling for post-Brexit immigration arrangements that recognise the capital’s situation. The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry has called for him to be given a new role in administering immigration, backed by survey evidence that its members, borough councillors and ordinary Londoners want it made easier to hire doctors nurses and teachers, believe that international students benefit the capital and are concerned that reduced immigration would lessen London’s attractiveness.

London First, which represents the capital’s larger employers and various education institutions, tweeted this morning that the £30,000 income threshold “just doesn’t take into account the jobs and skills our capital needs,” and says its should be re-set to London Living Wage level (approximately £20,000 a year). Doing so, they argue, would prevent “a sudden cliff-edge in recruitment” and give employers time to adjust. The government is to put the £30,000 threshold out to consultation, amid reports that some ministers believe it is too high.

Last updated at 12:38.


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