Plans to restrict immigration after Brexit risk causing serious damage to local economies in the UK, according to a new report that focuses on the example of England’s south-west.
Skilled migration will be significantly reduced under proposals in the government’s 2018 Immigration White Paper, leaving businesses in Bristol and the surrounding area struggling to recruit essential staff for the region’s thriving creative and technology firm, the report found.
The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a think tank, used the city as a case study for the impact of the proposed immigration curbs.
It found that up to 75 per cent of EU employees in Bristol would be ineligible to work in the UK because of new skills and salary thresholds.
“Despite its high skills base, our research finds that it will be hit hard by the government’s proposed reforms.
“Growth in critical sectors – ranging from aerospace to the creative industries to social care – could be seriously curtailed.”
IPPR found employers were especially concerned about the imposition of a £30,000 minimum salary threshold for all immigrants, which they saw as “unrealistic”.
Another government proposal, to introduce a new 12-month work visa, could discourage investment in training, employers said.
The think tank urged the Home Office to improve its plans by setting up a forum for businesses to provide their views and suggestions on immigration.
Ministers should reconsider the £30,000 threshold as well, particularly for key strategic sectors such as social care where the UK already faces a recruitment crisis, the IPPR said.
It also recommended using the immigration system to tackle inequality and low pay by, for example, granting visa benefits to employers who pay the living wage.