In response to the Home Secretary’s speech today at the Conservative Party conference, Seamus Nevin, Head of Employment and Skills Policy at the Institute of Directors, said:
“It is clear that immigration will continue to be a major bone of contention between companies and this Government. Businesses know that the EU referendum result means change to free movement of workers from the EU, but people were not voting to make the economy weaker. The evidence is clear that migrants are a benefit to the economy. The UK has a record level of employment, so immigration is not hurting jobs. IoD members who employ migrants also train British workers. Yes, a quick rise in immigration to a particular area does cause concerns about access to public services and housing, which is why the Home Secretary is right to re-instate a fund to deal with local impacts.
“It was frustrating to hear the Home Secretary sticking to the arbitrary ‘tens of thousands’ target, which has no connection to the skills the UK needs or the actual impacts of migration. Amber Rudd all but admitted that it was an impossible target to meet, so holding herself to it can only continue to undermine trust in politicians on this issue. The Home Office also must not try to make employers do the work of government. Small companies do not have the expertise or know-how to vet immigration applications.
“There are different ways to control immigration, and we should see Brexit as a chance to design a system which addresses local concerns, without damaging business or universities. Staying on the current course will end up satisfying no-one. Net immigration will likely stay above 100,000, while firms and the public sector struggle to fill skills gaps, making it harder for them to navigate the uncertainty of the coming Brexit negotiations. It’s a great disappointment that the Government spurned the chance they did have to provide some certainty to employers by guaranteeing the status of EU workers already in the UK."