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Migration reforms are “harming London businesses”

by LLB Reporter
7th Dec 11 9:40 am

The London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) has warned the government its migration reforms are harming the capital’s businesses.

A new report from the business organisation argues the value of overseas workers to the London economy is far greater than many policymakers realise. The government faces political and social pressure to reduce the number of migrants that come into the UK, but the LCCI’s report, Migration reform: caps don’t fit, argues they should be ignored for the economy’s benefit.

The government’s latest migration reforms, including the introduction of a cap on non-EU migration and changes to the points-based system, are already harming businesses, the report argues. It will cause further damage once the economy picks up and companies look to take on staff, it said.

Non-EU migrants are important to businesses of all sizes in London, according to the report. Some 63 per cent of companies in the capital, and 59 per cent of the smallest firms (19 employees or less), have employed or considered taking on non-EU migrant workers in the last five years.

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Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of businesses that have looked to workers outside of the EU did so because they believed it would help them grow in markets outside of the EU. This figure rose to 29 per cent among the smallest firms. The report also found 30 per cent of employers who looked outside of the EU did so due to a short supply of talent within the EU, while the same percentage wanted to gain the language skills offered by non-EU migrants.

Some 23 per cent of London businesses said the changes introduced in April have made it harder for them to fill vacancies in their workforce, while the same percentage believe they would not recruit at all if the best person for a job was a non-EU migrant, but they could not bring them in.

LCCI chief executive Colin Stanbridge said: “The best way to provide long-term, sustainable employment opportunities for British workers is by ensuring that our firms are able to grow, but our research shows that the government’s reforms are already stifling the growth of some companies.

“Businesses need certainty to be able to plan ahead and steady access to the global talent pool. It is not just large corporations that rely on non-EU workers but small businesses as well, and many do so because of the export opportunities this can create in markets outside of the EU. The government must be aware that its reforms to the UK’s migration system threaten to undermine two of its biggest promises to the business community: that the UK must be ‘open for business’ and that we must return to being an ‘exporting nation’.”

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