London mayor backs devolved immigration call

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has thrown his weight behind businesses' call for a regionally devolved immigration system once the UK has left the European Union.

an image containing various visa stamps including one for Heathrow Airport in the UK and the EU
At a meeting with the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), London Mayor Khan backed the chamber's call for the creation of a Shortage Occupation List specifically for the capital, in order to fast-track people needed for specific occupations where the need for overseas talent was greatest.

Mayor Khan: proposed immigration salary threshold should be lowered

Additionally, Mr Khan said the £30,000 salary threshold proposed by the government for its post-Brexit immigration policy was too high and "would prevent the recruitment of long-term migrant workers".Instead, he said he was calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to reduce the threshold to £21,000 - the 'living wage' level in London.The LCCI is calling for a devolution of the new immigration system which, in London, would "reflect the capital’s unique immigration footprint, which sees non-UK nationals making up a quarter of London’s workforce, compared to eight per cent in the rest of the country".Mr Khan told the meeting that he was urging the government to "fully recognise the positive impact immigration and freedom of movement (within the European Economic Area) has had in London and the UK". However, Mr Johnson has said he favours an Australian-style, points-based system to control immigration and Home Secretary Priti Patel has confirmed she will commission the government's Migration Advisory Committee to review plans for such a system.

More than half of London businesses feel £30,000 salary threshold will worsen skill shortages

A poll carried out last week by ComRes for the LCCI week showed that more the half of London businesses felt the proposed £30,000 salary threshold would worsen London’s skills shortages.Peter Bishop, interim CEO of the chamber, said, “Migrants form the fabric of London’s businesses and communities and the capital is far more reliant upon foreign labour than any other region in the UK. This is why, for many years, LCCI has pushed for a devolved immigration system to a London level.

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“A proposal we have strongly pushed for is a dedicated Shortage Occupation List for the capital. It is great to see the mayor lending his support to this, and also to see him continuing to support the merits of immigration, including calling for a lowering of the £30,000 salary threshold proposed in the government’s immigration white paper.“Our polling out just last week showed that 57% of businesses say that level would worsen London’s skills shortages, with 68% saying particularly for low-skilled labour supply. Whilst half of London businesses say it would also negatively impact the capital’s housing and infrastructure projects.”

Proposed Brexit immigration strategy would turbo charge the economy

Julia Onslow-Cole, who is on the LCCI board and is a member of the mayor’s Brexit Expert Advisory Panel, added, “If followed, the mayor’s proposals, which align with LCCI thinking, would turbo charge the economy, protect jobs and bring our immigration policy into the 21st century.“The UK’s immigration policy is lagging behind the rest of the world and we need now, more than ever, to have a policy fit for the future. One of the key aspects of the much acclaimed Australian points based system is a regional policy with devolved powers.“Multiple business sectors are concerned about the proposed £30,000 salary threshold. And that’s not just within the UK itself. For example, I was in Silicon Valley recently, talking to tech companies who are worried about the impact that threshold would have on their UK base, staff and suppliers.“UK business and business organisations were rapid in voicing widespread concern about the £30,000 figure to government. But whilst it’s welcome that the home secretary has asked for the figure to be revisited, the process of reviewing the threshold isn’t a swift one, inevitably leading to a continuation of concern and even delayed investment. The figure needs to be lowered soon.”A Home Office spokesman said, "The prime minister wants an immigration system that attracts the brightest and best talent from around the world, which is based on what someone can contribute rather than where they come from."Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.
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