What will the UK Government’s long-awaited immigration reform plan look like – with the aim of reaching an agreement on the proposals to end free movement after Brexit – and what will it mean for businesses and their staff?
Top of the immigration wish list from businesses are:
1. The minimum salary threshold for overseas migrants is dropped to £21,000, rather than the £30,000 mooted by the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) in September.
2. The introduction of a low-skilled immigration route, seen as vital to sectors such as hospitality, manufacturing, rural and agriculture that rely heavily on low-skilled EU migration.
3. Abolition of the administratively burdensome Residential Labour Market Test (RLMT) – a universal headache to HR Managers across industry.
On December 18, press reports suggested the White Paper’s release would likely be delayed because the cabinet was split on the minimum salary level for overseas migrants. However, just a day later, the White Paper looks set to be released.
The Government’s commitment to reduce net migration to fewer than 100,000 people each year – a Conservative Party manifesto commitment at the last General Election – was reported on Tuesday to have been left out of the draft proposals, so it will be interesting to see if that manifesto commitment features in the White Paper.
It was believed the minimum salary threshold would be set at £30,000 – the level recommended by the MAC in September, however some senior cabinet ministers are reported to have lobbied to reduce this to £21,000. This potential concession, combined with the scrapping of the RLMT and a rumoured easy entry for low-skilled workers, would be welcome news for business in time for Christmas.