15 October 2018

We reported in September 2018 on the report by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) on immigration to the UK post-Brexit (see “Government urged to scrap limit on skilled migrants”).

Now a leading think tank has analysed the MAC proposals in detail and concluded that around three-quarters of EU employees currently working in the UK would be ineligible for a work visa if these proposals are accepted by the Government.

Marley Morris, a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), said: “While of course EU citizens currently in the UK will be protected by the UK-EU withdrawal agreement, the MAC’s recommendations would have significant implications for future EU migrants. Overall, these proposals would see a major shake-up for our immigration system, with sectors such as hospitality, logistics and wholesale feeling the squeeze.”

While EU citizens currently in the UK are expected to be protected under the terms of the UK-EU withdrawal agreement, the think tank’s analysis suggests that the overall impact of the MAC proposals would be dramatic for businesses recruiting migrants from the EU in future.

It highlights the high salary thresholds and restraints on low-skilled work put forward by the Committee as having a major impact on future employment of migrant workers.

The industries most likely to be negatively affected include hotels and restaurants (where an estimated 97% of EU employees would be ineligible), transport and storage (95%) and wholesale and retail (92%). The least affected industries include financial services (where only 25% of EU employees would be ineligible) and information and communications (30%).

“Rather than simply cutting off low-skilled EU labour,” Mr Morris suggested, “the Government should consider ways to incentivise employers to pay more and train more, by offering advantages in the visa system to responsible businesses.”

The IPPR has published its own report, “A level playing field for workers: The future of employment rights post-Brexit” (available at https://bit.ly/2QHw0aR).