The benefits of establishing a coherent UK immigration policy

Posted on 2 Oct 2018 by Maddy White

The CBI has published its key recommendations for a UK immigration policy post-Brexit which recognise the strong links between people and trade.

UK immigration - Brexit will not affect GDPR as it will apply directly in the UK before we leave the EU - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Maintaining access to people and skills is a high priority for business – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

The report, Open and Controlled – A New Approach to Migration – provides evidence from 129,000 businesses across 18 industry sectors.

What does it detail?

According to the report, most credible economic studies show that immigration delivers economic benefits to the UK; essentially, foreign workers put in more money than they take out.

As the Office for Budget Responsibility notes, higher net migration also reduces pressure on government debt.

The report which includes insights from businesses of all sizes, highlights just how important migration is to all parts of the UK economy, at all skills levels.

Josh Hardie, CBI Deputy Director-General, said: “Freedom of movement will be ending. The building blocks of a successful new migration system for the UK begin with an honest and open debate that has been absent from politics. The stakes couldn’t be higher.

“Get it wrong, and the UK risks having too few people to run the NHS, pick fruit or deliver products to stores around the country. This would hurt us all – from the money in our pockets to our access to public services.”

Immigration is essential

For nearly half a century, free movement has enabled businesses to draw on the talent, skills and labour of over 500 million people, according to the report.

The information collated shows that businesses require a combination of skill levels, and that these are inter-connected through complex supply chains, this means it is essential to get policy on immigration right.

The CBI study even suggests that EU workers currently make up between 4% and 30% of the total workforce in different sectors.

Recent statistics from the Office for National Statistics also reported that 11% of the UK’s manufacturing workforce were EU nationals, this equating to more than one in 10.

Get exclusive insights into the future of UK manufacturing here!

Mobility is as important as migration

AMI's competition is looking to promote apprenticeships through social media - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Being able to move employees easily across Europe, often at short notice, has become an integral part of many businesses ability to succeed – image courtesy of Depositphotos.

Services play a crucial role in the UK economy, therefore enabling people mobility across countries is equally important.

Being able to move employees easily across Europe, often at short notice, has become an integral part of many businesses ability to succeed.

As the UK prepares to leave the European Union next March, businesses will face momentous changes. The UK and EU must work together to enable both parties access to all levels of labour, and a policy which is mutually beneficial.

Putting migration as an important factor in future trade negotiations now, will also likely increase the chance of getting the best Brexit deal for Britain, and this of course, is becoming critical.

CBI’s five recommendations for a new immigration system:

  • Build public trust in the UK’s migration system by shifting away from controlling numbers to assessing contribution and by investing in local public services where demand has been increased by migration
  • Reform the UK’s non-EU immigration system so that firms can better access people and skills from around the world, not just the EU
  • Recognise the strong links between people and trade as the UK forges new economic relationships on the world stage
  • Replace free movement with an open and controlled immigration system for EU workers
  • Ensure that the transition to any new migration system is done with respect for people and in an orderly manner