New immigration system causes alarm

Contractors and businesses have expressed concern over the Government’s new immigration rules.

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Self employed workers are warning that the Government’s new points-based immigration rules could be a disaster for British contractors if the EU imposes a similar approach.

The Association of Independent Professionals and the Self-Employed [IPSE] says they do not include any dedicated route for self-employed people coming to the UK. They will instead have to apply through other routes, such as the innovation visa, which requires people to have a ‘new idea’ and £50,000 in funds.

Andy Chamberlain, Deputy Director of Policy at IPSE, says: “So far, there does not seem to be any explicit provision for the skilled contractors that drive innovation in the UK. This is a fatal flaw: the government must urgently rethink its approach and set up a dedicated self-employed route. Otherwise, it risks not only hampering the flexible labour market in the UK, but also prompting the EU to take a similarly draconian approach to British contractors.”

The rules is based on points and will bar non-skilled workers from outside the UK. Anyone wanting to come and work in the UK will have to have a job offer with a salary of at least £25,600, though for those in areas of skills shortages such as nursing that may be lowered to £20,480. All workers will have to speak English.

Business leaders have expressed alarm at the new rules at a time of multiple skills shortages across sectors and record high employment in the UK. Proponents of the system argue it could lead to higher salaries and encourage greater automation of jobs to fill skills gaps. Home Secretary Priti Patel says those who are currently economically inactive, including the long-term sick, people who have taken early retirement, stay-at home parents, carers and students, could be trained to fill skills shortages.

The Confederation of British Industry welcomed the abolition of the cap on skilled visas and the reduction in the minimum salary threshold from £30,000. But Director-General Carolyn Fairbairn said: “In some sectors firms will be left wondering how they will recruit the people needed to run their businesses. With already low unemployment, firms in care, construction, hospitality, food and drink could be most affected.

“Firms know that hiring from overseas and investing in the skills of their workforce and new technologies is not an ‘either or’ choice – both are needed to drive the economy forward.

“So careful implementation across all UK nations and regions will be required. A regularly reviewed shortage occupations list, with promises of further flexibility, will be vital for the effectiveness of the new system. Above all, the government must work with employers and employees – especially smaller firms – to ensure they have the time to adapt to new policies and practices.”

The new immigration is due to come into force in early 2021.

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