The full impact on the South East economy of government plans which could restrict businesses from employing overseas workers earning less than £30,000 has been laid bare in new CBI analysis.
Post-Brexit immigration system proposals currently under consultation could prevent firms employing workers on salaries of less than £30,000 for more than a year under a new visa system.
However, a CBI study published has outlined the severe difficulties businesses would face if the salary threshold recommended by the Migration Advisory Committee is introduced:
- In the South East, 62% of workers earn less than £30,000 per year and the average wage in the region is £25,000 (median).
- The accommodation and hospitality sector in the South East – where 86% of workers earn under £30,000 – would be particularly impacted. Statistics show that 15% of workers in the sector are EEA nationals.
Malcolm Hyde, CBI South East regional director, said: “We know that South East businesses are creating jobs but many are already struggling to fill vacancies and suffering from skills shortages.
“Continued access to overseas workers after Brexit is vital to drive growth, innovation and prosperity in the South East. The Government’s current proposals risk causing significant harm at a time of uncertainty for business.
“A one-year limit on workers earning less than £30,000 would encourage firms to hire a different person each year, needlessly increasing costs and discouraging migrants from integrating into communities.
“Leaving the EU should be an opportunity to develop an independent immigration policy that works for business by being both open to allow our economy to grow and controlled to restore public confidence.”
Hyde added:“The Government’s own Migration Advisory Committee has confirmed there is little or no evidence to show immigration has any impact on jobs or wages for local workers.
“Hospitals, housebuilders and retailers are just a few examples of major employers already struggling to find the people they need at salaries well below £30,000.
“Installing further barriers via these proposals will make the South East poorer and the Government must use this 12-month engagement period to listen to our businesses and go back to the drawing board.”