When it comes to immigration policy the Government is doing a double whammy on the British economy. How so?
The Government’s commitment to bringing net migration down to the tens of thousands by 2015, from the current figure of around 250,000, is increasingly looking forlorn. With no control over EU worker mobility or indeed emigration, the Government has launched a number of assaults on non-EU migration which will prove very damaging to the UK economy. For example, an arbitrary cap has been set on skilled migrants under Tier 2. Rather than economic need determining migration it is being set by the political interests of the current Government.
The recently released figures from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) shows that whilst last year’s cap for Tier 2 was set at 21,700, the migrants entering the UK via this route could be as low as 10,000. Should we draw the conclusion that the cap has not artificially driven down the numbers of such migrants? Perhaps this slump is purely due to the stagnating economy? An alternative interpretation is coming from the business community who are saying constant change in the immigration regulations is putting off employers, whilst would be migrants to the UK are being turned-off by what they see as an anti-migrant message.
At the very same time the Government has allowed Intra Company Transfers to grow markedly without check. Intra Company Transfers (ICT) allows employers to move existing employees from their plants/offices outside the UK into the UK for a limited period of time. As a concept the TUC does not have a problem with ICTs. At times such transfers are clearly desirable and in the interests of the workforce as a whole e.g. in the transference of knowledge. The MAC’s figures however show that ICTs have grown significantly from around 20,000 in 2009 to 30,000 by mid 2011 and per capita are substantially higher than those in comparative countries like the USA, Japan and Germany.
Moreover, experience from the workplace suggests that in many cases ICTs are being used without any demonstrable economic need. This is not surprising given that employers bringing in staff via the ICT route do not have to pass the resident labour market test; they simply do not have to demonstrate that there is no one in the UK resident labour market that could do the job.
The Government is pursuing an immigration policy which delivers the worst of all possible worlds, one that excludes skilled workers we need whilst allowing in skilled workers we don’t. It is time for a radical rethink of immigration policy. We need an immigration policy which places economic growth at its very heart. One which makes the UK attractive to the very migrants we desperately need.