London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has called on the Government to make certain provisions to allow for practical immigration in London after the UK leaves the EU.
LCCI has set out its plans in a new report; Permits, Points and Visas; securing practical immigration for post-Brexit London. The report is underpinned by an economic study from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), which found that London's non-UK migrant workers constitute 25% of the capital's workforce, made an estimated £44bn GVA contribution, and paid £13bn taxation revenues last year.
Migrants are a Key Component of the London Workforce
The Cebr study highlighted that over 771,000 EU nationals are currently employed in a range of sectors such as construction (30% of the London workforce), hospitality and distribution (20% of London workforce), and banking and finance (14% of London workforce).
In a post-Brexit setting if these nationals had to seek to work under existing Tier 2 immigration visa rules, London would lose 160,000 workers, face a £7bn negative impact on economic output and miss an estimated £2bn direct tax contributions by 2020, as many EU nationals would likely not meet the recently amended requirements on salary thresholds.
The five main recommendations set out in the report are:
- The Mayor of London should champion a single-issue 'London Work Visa' granting 'indefinite leave to remain' to reassure current EU national employees and their London employers.
- The Government should consider Targeted Migration Area designation for the London Region within the UK Immigration system.
- The Government should task the Migration Advisory Committee with maintaining a 'Shortage Occupation List for London' to attract the skills and talent necessary to ensure the long-term sustainability of the capital's economy.
- The Mayor of London should explore the potential for a dedicated 'Capital Work Permits system' to provide controlled access for future migrant workers and meet London employers' need for skilled labour.
- The capital's established business organisations and the Office of Mayor together could seek UKVI licensing as the Work Permit Sponsorship body for London Region.
"Immigration has underpinned London's economic, social and cultural development over centuries, making it the great city it is today,” explained LCCI Chief Executive Colin Stanbridge. “Cebr's analysis reveals the significant contribution that migrant workers make to the modern London economy - indeed they represent one quarter of the workforce. Given their role and input it is vital to London's future that a degree of flexibility is applied if government amends the UK immigration system.”
Calls for Skills-Based Immigration System
The importance of immigration for the London and UK economy has also been highlighted in a recent report from the London Assembly Economy Committee.
The report suggests that any new national immigration system should not automatically exclude people without concrete job offers – skills should be valued just as highly, as a skills-based immigration system will be more successful and beneficial to London and the UK in the long term.
It also suggests that London could consider developing its own visa system to allow skilled workers to live and work in the capital, highlighting that variations of regional work permits have been used in other countries, like China and Canada.
“We need the closest possible access to the single market when the UK leaves the EU and greater clarity on the status of EU workers is absolutely vital,” said Fiona Twycross AM, Chair of the Economy Committee. “London needs to retain and attract a talented and highly skilled workforce and a skills-based immigration system could be the answer.”
For expert legal advice on UK immigration then contact our specialist lawyers today.