18 September 2018

  |  CBI Northern Ireland

Press release

CBI NI responds to migration advisory committee report

The CBI NI has responded to the migration advisory committee’s (MAC) report on the impact of EU migration on the UK. 

CBI NI responds to migration advisory committee report

Angela McGowan, CBI NI Regional Director, said:

“This report provides useful insights but is not a roadmap for a new system.

“The findings are clear about the immigration dividend. Migration drives up productivity and innovation by bringing a range of much needed skills into the economy.

“The critical recommendation missing from the report is that migration should be part of our trade negotiations with the EU. The Migration Advisory Committee leaves this decision open to Government and says that it might be ‘something of value to offer in negotiations’. If it is the Government’s intention to implement a global system, preferential access for countries where the UK has trade deals will be essential to provide the basis for an open and controlled system that can work for the whole economy.

“The current non-EU visa system is highly bureaucratic and cannot be extended to EU workers without major reform, so the MAC is right to recommend scrapping the tier 2 cap. But these proposals don’t go far enough.

“Retaining the £30,000 salary threshold remains unreasonable as it blocks many essential workers from coming to Northern Ireland given the prevailing lower average regional salaries for many sectors.

“Similarly, plans outlined for low-skilled workers are inadequate, and risks damaging labour shortages. The MAC recognises that a restrictive approach to EEA migration would pose a challenge for Northern Ireland’s critically important agri-food industry but unfortunately it fails to offer a workable alternative. There is a danger that NI employers could be forced to relocate to the Republic of Ireland to maintain their competitive advantage if the already tight local labour supply is further restricted.  

“The government should now build on this evidence to pursue a flexible, open and controlled system and combines public confidence with ability to attract the people and skills that companies need. However, it is vitally important that any such system works for the whole UK taking into account Northern Ireland’s unique challenges.”