The government has confirmed that it will introduce a skills-based immigration system once the UK leaves the European Union. In its White Paper, the emphasis will be on “talent and expertise… rather than where they come from”, said to home secretary Sajid Javid. The white paper sets out the government’s plans for immigration after Brexit, and puts in place a number of recommendations set out in the independent Migration Advisory Committee report, published in September.
These will include plans to scrap the cap on Tier 2 visas for skilled workers coming into the UK, while the proposed £30,000 minimum salary threshold to qualify for visas will go out to a consultation.
Low-skilled migrant workers will lose the right to live and work in the UK .
Skilled workers will be recognized as those who have A-Level equivalent qualifications or higher. A salary threshold , yet to be set will also be introduced.
Unskilled workers will be able to apply for entry through a “transitional… time-limited route for temporary short-term workers” with a visa that will permit entry for 12 months, with a 12-month cooling-off period “to prevent people from effectively working in the UK permanently”. Visa holders will also be denied access to public funds through mechanisms like benefits or the NHS, no right to stay and no right to bring dependent family members.
Commenting on the Immigration White Paper, BBPA Chief Executive Brigid Simmonds said:
“We welcome the Immigration White Paper and its recognition that migrant workers play an important role in the UK economy. Greater flexibility shows the Government has been listening to the beer and pub sector as well as the wider business community.
“We have previously called for a review of the Tier system and welcome the intention outlined by the Government to remove the annual cap on the number of Tier-2 work visas issued, widen the skills threshold to include people with qualifications equivalent to that of A levels, and end the requirements for labour market tests by employers wanting to sponsor a worker.
“We have also previously raised our concerns over retaining the salary cap of £30,000 as pub chefs, who are very much in short supply within our sector, would in many cases not meet this prohibitively high cap. A further consultation on the appropriate salary cap is therefore most welcome and we will also seek that chefs are included on the shortage occupation list going forwards.
“It is good that the white paper recognises the administrative burden involved in employing migrant workers, particularly for SMEs, stating that the Government intends to make the visa sponsorship process less onerous. No small pub could take on the current sponsorship requirements as they stand, let alone the cost and bureaucracy that currently goes with it.
“The BBPA has repeatedly called for the Youth Mobility Scheme to be extended to the whole of the EU, so it is great to see the Government commit to doing this in the white paper. The Youth Mobility Scheme allows young people up to the age of 30 from a prescribed list of countries to work in the UK for up to two years and considering some 42% of employees in pubs are under the age of 25, it is great news for our sector.
“Whilst through the proposed Tourism Sector Deal we will be working hard to recruit and retain more UK nationals, the announcement of an additional transitionary short term work visa for workers from low-risk countries will also be welcomed by our sector.
“The white paper has outlined that the Government does not intend to require visitors from the EU to require a visa to travel to the UK. This is good news for the Britain’s brewers and pubs who are a vital part of the countries tourism industry.
“Overall, the Immigration White Paper is more positive step than had been anticipated for Britain’s beer and pub sectors and addresses some of our key concerns. However, there are still some major challenges to address in terms of salary thresholds, costs and affordability and we look forward to building on it through consultations and discussions with the Government moving forward.”
UKHospitality commented: “The central plank of Government’s immigration policy, to cut off lower-skilled migration with a salary threshold, is fundamentally flawed and will damage the hospitality sector and the wider UK economy. It also does little to build bridges with our European friends.
We need the Government to keep to its word, listen to business over the next 12 months and realise that these proposals will be crippling for business, and Britain’s high streets in particular. An immigration policy that recognises the contributions of migrants of all skill levels is one that works for Britain.
“We are working to develop the pipeline of domestic talent, through the Tourism Sector Deal, of which hospitality is a major part; but the hospitality sector needs EU workers to support our homegrown teams and keep the sector growing.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to expand youth mobility arrangements. All the evidence shows that young migrants contribute significantly to the UK economy. We await further detail on this, but it needs to have sufficient incentive for workers to want to come to the UK in the first place.
“The introduction of 12-month temporary visa could risk creating a dual workforce, with those permitted to stay being invested in and those on temporary visas unable to plan or progress. This could prove a significant drag on productivity.