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Business demands salary test is cut in post-Brexit immigration system

Business groups have joined forces to demand a role in shaping the UK’s post-Brexit immigration system.

The lobby groups, which include the five largest by memberships, used an open letter to the Home Secretary Priti Patel to make a series of suggestions as they fret over the potential for a skills and wider labour shortage when the UK leaves the EU.

The organisations, which include the CBI, British Chambers of Commerce and Federation of Small Businesses, largely opposed the notion of Brexit as it restricts the availability of talent through the ending of free movement of people between member states.

Image: The soft fruits industry has already encountered lower demand for pickers

The letter, signed by 36 different interest groups scaling the economy, urges the government to accept an offer of help in designing the various criteria a person from abroad would need to meet to be able to work in the UK.

The document set out four key priorities as the Migration Advisory Committee considers a new points-based immigration system for introduction in 2021.


The business groups are seeking flexibility for skilled workers through such a system, coupled with a reformed sponsorship process.

They also welcome, what the letter describes as “indications” from ministers, that a planned £30,000 minimum salary test could be reduced by a third.

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However, they admit wages and benefits to the economy from higher salaries must be protected.

Chancellor: Brexit won’t benefit all businesses

The groups also argued that the issuance of unsponsored visas to low-skilled workers be extended to two years from one.

The case was based, the letter said, on the belief it would prove more productive and remove the need for “constantly” hiring new people.

The letter said: “Business understands that the immigration system must change in order to re-build public confidence.

Image: Some sectors fear a so-called brain drain if work restrictions are too harsh

“Insight from enterprise can help build a points-based model that provides greater control, whilst providing access to the labour and skills needed to support the economy.

“And this can go hand in hand with a continued determination to invest in training home grown talent.”

It added: “The economy needs a simple, streamlined and affordable system that meets business’ needs of all sizes, sectors and across all UK regions and nations.

We look forward to working with the new government to inform the detailed design of a new immigration system in a way that commands public confidence and supports the UK’s global ambitions.”

A Home Office spokesperson responded: “We will deliver on the people’s priorities by introducing a points-based immigration system, attracting the brightest and best talent from around the world while cutting low-skilled immigration and bringing overall numbers down.

“This firmer and fairer system will let us decide who comes to this country based on their skills and the contribution they can make – not where they come from.

“We will continue to speak with businesses of all sizes as the system is designed and rolled out.”


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