Business unease over Tory immigration plans

The Conservatives have outlined their proposals for immigration after Brexit, with Labour revealling their plans later this week.

Business unease over Tory immigration plans.
Business leaders in the UK have expressed concerns over the latest Conservative Party proposals for a post-Brexit immigration system.While Prime Minister Boris Johnson's party is sticking to plans for an Australian-style points system - the exact form of which will not be known until at least a month after December's general election - more details emerged at the weekend of limitations to be imposed once Britain has left the EU.Under the plan, freedom of movement would end and EU27 nationals would be treated the same as would-be migrants from elsewhere in the world.The "vast majority" would need a job offer to come to the UK, with the only exceptions being entrepreneurs and a small number of highly skilled individuals, such as scientists.

Political stances on immigration

Conservative politicians have repeatedly said they want the UK open to "the brightest and the best".Additionally, all immigrants would have to wait five years before being eligible for state benefits, such as welfare and child allowances, while the immigration health surcharge for everyone on a work, study or family visa would be increased from £400 to £625 a year.The Conservatives are pledging to bring "overall migration down", although they have abandoned the decade-old target of reducing net migration to below 100,000 a year - a target that has never been achieved.Meanwhile, the Labour Party's position on immigration will remain uncertain until it publishes its election manifesto on Thursday, although it seems to have abandoned a plan, advocated by party activists, to retain freedom of movement for EU27 nationals after Brexit. 
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Dame Carolyn Fairbairn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), says there are "real concerns" for business about the Conservatives' immigration election pledges, along with Labour's proposals for widespread nationalisation of utilities."When we hear talk about the 'brightest and best', I think that is a worry," she told Sky News. "If you do want to build 200,000 houses a year, you don't just need the architects and the designers, you need the carpenters, you need the electricians, you need the labourers."We need people to come and help us renew our economy. It's not just brightest and best, it's people at all skill levels across our economy that we need."

Better access needed to skilled workers

The British Chambers of Commerce says the next government should introduce a simple and flexible new system that minimises the administrative burden on businesses and allows access to all skill levels, including temporary, seasonal and permanent roles.And the manufacturers' organisation, Make UK, says it wants to see the incoming government re-think the immigration policy to ensure manufacturers have access to all the skills they need.Both Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, addressed the CBI's annual conference on Monday. Mr Johnson promised to cut business rates and employers' National Insurance contributions as part of a range of tax cuts, while Mr Corbyn said Labour would create a climate apprenticeship programme aimed at training 80,000 people a year.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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