Responding to the latest official migration statistics, showing that net immigration over 2016 was around 250,000, with a rise in the number of EU citizens leaving, Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:
"Today's migration figures underline the importance of immigration to the UK workforce and are a warning of the damage a significant reduction could do. Alarmingly, the fall in net migration is being driven as much by people leaving as by fewer people arriving. This is a big worry for employers who risk losing key members of staff in positions that cannot easily be replaced from the home-grown pool available. The IoD has repeatedly called for the government to guarantee the status of EU migrants already living here. Doing so would provide security and allow businesses to start planning for the future.
“There is a well expressed public desire for increased control of immigration but all parties in the general election should set out clearly the costs of any proposals they make. The Office for Budget Responsibility have calculated that cutting immigration to the "tens of thousands" would add £6bn a year to the national deficit, just in terms of the direct reduction in the taxes collected and so not including wider economic impacts.
“The next government must also set out a plan for a new immigration system which doesn’t disrupt the dominant services sector of our economy. Trade isn’t just about goods being sold, services exports require people to be able to travel for business. Services comprise roughly 80% of UK employment and almost half of our exports, so a reduction in this area could lead to job losses and a considerable adjustment for the UK economy. Our migration system will play a central part in shaping “Global Britain’s” future trading relationship, not only with the EU, but also with the rest of the world.”