Weekly Roundup: 13 September 2018

This week's David Sapsted roundup includes information about extensive corporate and banking plans to relocate staff from the UK due to Brexit, the best place to live for expats, news about UK employment levels, and investigations into controversial ticket website Viagogo.

David Sapsted News in Brief - 13 September 2018 - American flag map

Not so great: USA plummets 42 places in ranking of best places to live and work

Bahrain has retained its top spot as the best place to live and work in the annual InterNations' poll of more than 18,000 expats across the globe.But there was little good news for Western nations in the rankings of the 68 'best' nations for expats, which is based on five criteria: quality of life, personal finance, ease of settling in, working abroad and family life.The United States, where President Trump has scarcely overseen a foreigner-friendly regime, tumbled from fifth five years ago to 47th this year, amid safety and health cost concerns. Meanwhile, the UK dropped from 21st last year to a lowly 59th, primarily - and not surprisingly - because of expat uncertainty over their futures in the country in the post-Brexit era.Taiwan, Ecuador, Mexico and Singapore rounded out the top five. Saudi Arabia and Kuwait occupied the bottom two spots.

International bank chiefs confirm plans to move jobs from London to the EU

International bank chiefs confirmed to a parliamentary committee this week that they were pressing ahead with plans to move hundreds - maybe, thousands - of London-based jobs to new, continental hubs because of Brexit.Asked by the House of Commons Treasury Select Committee about an earlier warning from JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon that a quarter of the bank's 16,000 UK jobs could move, Mark Gavin, the company's vice-chairman, said: "The evolution of our staff count and of our activities will be very much a function of the ultimate (Brexit) deal that is secured. There is clearly a scenario where actually one does envisage that kind of outcome."He said that existing contingency plans anticipated "hundreds" of jobs relocating by the time of Britain's departure from the EU next March, adding that the forecast of 4,000 was "a scenario that can be mitigated by a series of arrangements".Executives from Barclays and Citi told the MPs they were also shifting hundreds of jobs now and that the number could be "substantially larger" in future years. Citi plans to move between 150-200 staff out of a workforce of 6,000 in London, while Barclays expects to relocate about jobs, primarily to its Dublin HQ.A Reuters survey earlier this year found 5,000 financial services roles were expected to move from London to the EU by next March.

Unilever plans to move from London to Netherlands

Consumer goods giant Unilever has confirmed it plans to abandon London as the base of its legal headquarters in December and move to the Netherlands.The firm, which employs almost 170,000 worldwide and produces such brands as Ben and Jerry's ice cream, Dove soap, Lipton tea and Marmite, has not said how many staff will be relocated to Rotterdam but has previously stated most of its 7,300 staff in the UK and those in Holland would be unaffected by the move.Unilever still has to get approval for the plan at two general meetings in October and says it hopes to complete the transfer before the end of the year. The company denies the switch has anything to do with Brexit and says it simply wants to simplify administration by incorporating its two current legal entities into one.Unilever will continue to be listed in London, Amsterdam and New York, assuming investors give the plan their approval. The beauty and personal care, and home care divisions will continue to be headquartered in London after the move, while the foods and refreshment arm will have its HQ in Rotterdam.

Citi bank and Oxford University: migrants contribute billions to economic growth

Leading economies would be hundreds of billions of pounds poorer without the contribution of migrants to economic growth, according to a new report.Research from Citi bank and Oxford University's Martin Programme on Technological and Economic Change found that, if immigration had been frozen at 1990 levels, GDP would now be about $175 billion lower in the UK and $155 billion lower in Germany.In the US, the report said: "Migration has made a material contribution to long-term and also more recent growth, and the best-performing industries and regions in the US are highly dependent on migrants’ critical contribution."Andrew Pitt, global head of research at Citi, said: "Failure to discuss the economic importance of the issue is increasing the risk of destructive policy errors at a time when the benefits of high skilled migration, in particular, are becoming less secure for those economies that have thus far been enjoying them."

UK job vacancies at highest ever level, causing fears for industry leaders

Amid the news this week that unemployment in the UK had fallen again and that wages were growing well above inflation, was data showing vacancies now stood at 833,000 - the highest ever recorded.Good news for jobseekers, no doubt, but unwelcome news to industry leaders who have long been agonising over a skills shortage in a tight labour market. Calls to the government to reduce restrictions on access to to overseas talent have, so far, fallen on deaf.Suren Thiru, head of economics at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said the number of vacancies was "alarmingly high" and provided "further evidence of persistent skills shortages".He added: "While the number of people in work stands close to historic highs, firms continue to report that attempting to recruit staff with the right skills is an increasingly uphill struggle, which is stifling their ability to grow and boost productivity."It is vital that more is done to support those businesses looking to recruit and train staff, including delivering an open and flexible immigration system to help firms attract and retain the people they need to compete on the global stage."Tej Parikh, senior economist at the Institute of Directors, also expressed concern. "Vacancies are at an all-time high and recruiters are finding it increasingly difficult to match available workers with job descriptions."

Shadow Home Secretary, Diane Abbott, promises Labour would overhaul the UK working visa system

The opposition Labour Party has promised a major overhaul the UK's working visa system should it win power at the next general election.Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, told the party's annual conference on Thursday that the current government's aims of reducing net immigration to below 100,000 a year was a "meaningless and arbitrary" target."I am announcing that Labour in government will establish a completely reformed work visa policy. This policy will sit alongside the existing visas for business trips, students, visitors and tourists," Ms Abbott said."Under our new work visa system, anyone with specified bona fide skills can come here to work. The new, integrated work visa allows us to offer rights of work and residency and accelerated citizenship to a range of professions, workers and those creating employment who want to come here."This will apply across a range of jobs, skills and professions. People coming to take up specific job offers, where it can be shown that those jobs cannot be filled by workers already resident here, will be able to come here."Next week, the government's Migration Advisory Committee will publish its recommendations for a post-Brexit immigration system.

Viagogo faces investigations in seven countries; plans move staff to the US

Troubled secondary ticketing website Viagogo, which is facing consumer authority investigations in seven countries, is preparing to move many senior staff among its 100-strong team in London to New York, according to a report in the Guardian.The move is to “explore US expansion”, an unnamed source told the newspaper, adding: “Several senior developers have already relocated. A few others are moving in the next couple of months, and others are leaving very soon.”According to the Guardian, individuals operating as secondary ticket sellers have recently been receiving payments from a new company, Viagogo Entertainment Inc, which has been registered in Delaware, rather than Viagogo AG, the firm's Swiss-registered HQ.Viagogo's pricing and marketing practices are currently being investigated by authorities in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, New Zealand and Australia.For related news and features, visit our International AssignmentsUK and Brexit sections.
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