28/08/2018 – News / Migration / Brexit / Employment / Skills / Economy / EU / UK

Latest migration figures to UK are no cause for celebration, says BCC

Net migration to the UK from other EU countries has continued to slide to a near six-year low, with the difference between the number of EU citizens entering the UK and the number leaving sinking to 87,000 in the year up to March, according to quarterly migration figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS). As the so-called ‘Brexodus’ continues, Jane Gratton – Head of Business Environment and Skills at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) – says these new figures are “nothing to celebrate”.

 

“Given [British] businesses are facing record skills gaps at every level, it’s disappointing to see the decline in people from Europe coming [to the UK] to work,” she remarked. “Despite valiant efforts to recruit at home, plus heavy investment in training, employers still need great people to fill job vacancies where there are local shortages.”

 

As the UK leaves the European Union, Ms Gratton stressed that the British government should be “shouting from the rooftops about its desire to keep attracting talented people from the Continent and beyond who want to live and work in one of the world’s most dynamic economies”.

 

Clarity – not “Kafkaesque bureaucracy” – required

 

“Businesses don’t want to hear silly gimmicks like UK-only passport queues at the border – which deliver no benefits and make the UK seem unwelcoming and closed-minded,” she continued. “Instead, firms need absolute clarity on what the UK immigration system will look like, when new rules will take effect, and whether government has the courage to take a scythe to the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of the Home Office.

 

With the number of EU workers coming to the UK continuing to fall, many – including Ms Gratton – believe the government’s delay in publishing its white paper on immigration is damaging the economy.

 

“The Immigration White Paper must provide clear answers for business – and fast,” she warned.

 

The paper was originally due to be published over a year ago, yet has still to materialise. Following disagreement and much delay, the most recent (and somewhat vague) announcement from the government stated the white paper would finally be unveiled in the “autumn”.

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