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Government's immigration proposals must be flexible, say business leaders

The Government must ensure its new point-based immigration system remains flexible to ensure businesses can meet demand and ensure the economy can grow and prosper post-Brexit. 

Stephen Henagulph, Chief Executive of Somerset Chamber of Commerce said: “There is a real danger companies will be unable to meet orders, increase business capacity and grow because of the proposed changes to the UK immigration system, in particular, the suggestion that low-skilled workers will not receive visas.

“I visited a food manufacturing company that supplies multiple supermarkets with both seasonal products and regular/standard items. They were operating within a challenging environment pre-Christmas trying to keep up with existing supermarket orders.

“The uncertainties caused by the Brexit delay had seen a sharp reduction in 2019 of their core workforce – the non-skilled food preparation employee.

“Traditionally these workers had come to the UK from former Eastern Bloc countries. Travelling and staying in family units’ father, mother and older children all working in the food preparation areas; by mid-2019 there numbers had reduced by over 80%.

“The Government’s proposed immigration changes must be flexible and must take account of the very real need of our businesses to recruit low-skilled workers to meet demand if our economy is to grow and prosper post-Brexit.”

Commenting on the Government’s policy proposals for a points-based immigration system, BCC Director General Adam Marshall, said: “The speed and scale of these changes will require significant adjustment by businesses.

“Companies are already investing heavily in home-grown talent across the UK, but critical labour shortages mean firms will still need access to overseas workers at all skill levels. 

“The new points system must be able to respond quickly to changing market needs, and the application process must be radically simplified.”

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