The Mayor of London has given his backing to London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) immigration policy proposals, as part of an immigration announcement that he made at LCCI’s discussion event with him on Monday evening.
Since the referendum in 2016, LCCI has called for devolution of immigration systems to a London level, in order to reflect the capital’s unique immigration footprint, which sees non-UK nationals making up a quarter of London’s workforce, compared to 8% in the rest of the country.
One specific proposal from LCCI, and which has received the Mayor’s backing, is the creation of a Shortage Occupation List for the capital, which would be designed to ‘fast track people needed for specific occupations where the need for overseas talent is greatest. This would give employers a mechanism to report acute skills shortages more swiftly than the national shortage occupation list. The shortage occupation list is an official list of occupations that are in high demand in the UK and for which there are not enough resident workers to fill vacancies. A devolved and regularly updated list for London would help employers to target roles where they are most needed.’
The Mayor also joined LCCI in calling on the Government to lower the £30,000 salary threshold for migrants post-Brexit, which is proposed in the immigration white paper. LCCI polling with ComRes last week showed that over half (57%) of London businesses say that a £30,000 salary threshold for (EU and non-EU) migrants working in the UK post-Brexit would worsen London’s skills shortages, also (50% say) negatively impacting London’s housing and infrastructure projects. Two-thirds (68%) of the capital’s businesses say it would reduce the supply of low-skilled labour in London, particularly.
Commenting on the Mayor’s announcement, Peter Bishop, interim Chief Executive Officer of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry said, “Migrants form the fabric of London’s businesses and communities and the capital is far more reliant upon foreign labour than any other region in the UK. This is why, for many years, LCCI has pushed for a devolved immigration system to a London level.
“A proposal we have strongly pushed for is a dedicated Shortage Occupation List for the capital. It is great to see the Mayor of London lending his support to this, and also to see him continuing to support the merits of immigration, including calling for a lowering of the £30,000 salary threshold proposed in the government’s immigration white paper.
“Our polling out just last week showed that 57% of businesses say that level would worsen London’s skills shortages, with 68% saying particularly for low-skilled labour supply. Whilst half of London businesses say it would also negatively impact the capital’s housing and infrastructure projects.”
LCCI board member, Partner for global government strategies at Fragomen, and a member of the Mayor’s Brexit Expert Advisory Panel, Julia Onslow-Cole said, “If followed, the Mayor’s proposals, which align with LCCI thinking, would turbo charge the economy, protect jobs and bring our immigration policy into the 21st century.
“The UK’s immigration policy is lagging behind the rest of the world and we need now, more than ever, to have a policy fit for the future. One of the key aspects of the much acclaimed Australian points based system is a regional policy with devolved powers.”
Commenting on the Government-proposed £30,000 salary threshold for migrants, Julia added, “Multiple business sectors are concerned about the proposed £30,000 salary threshold. And that’s not just within the UK itself. For example, I was in Silicon Valley recently, talking to tech companies who are worried about the impact that threshold would have on their U.K base, staff and suppliers.
“UK business and business organisations were rapid in voicing widespread concern about the £30,000 figure to government. But whilst it’s welcome that the Home Secretary has asked for the figure to be revisited, the process of reviewing the threshold isn’t a swift one, inevitably leading to a continuation of concern and even delayed investment. The figure needs to be lowered soon.”