Alex Wright, a private immigration specialist at law firm Broudie Jackson Canter says the proposed new rules could hurt businesses in the care sector and construction. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool-based immigration specialist Alex Wright says the Government’s proposed points-based post-Brexit immigration system is “short-sighted”.
Mr Wright, a private immigration specialist at law firm Broudie Jackson Canter, says the proposals make it much more difficult for overseas workers to come to the UK to fill what are regarded as lower-skilled and lower paid jobs.
Home Secretary Priti Patel is urging employers to “move away” from relying on “cheap labour” from the EU and invest more in training and in the development of automation technology. She added the Government wanted to “encourage people with the right talent” and “reduce the levels of people coming to the UK with low skills”.
Critics of the policy say it will negatively impact on the care sector and the NHS, both of which rely on a steady supply of labour from overseas. Foreign nationals currently make up a sixth of the 840,000 care workers in England and one in 11 posts is currently vacant.
There is also concern about the impact on the construction sector which also relies on overseas labour, particularly in the South East. The policy could be at odds with plans to significantly increase spending on major infrastructure projects, such as HS2.
Mr Wright said: “The apparent lack of a low-skilled route seems incredibly short-sighted. The idea that we can replace our need for these types of workers with automation by January 2021 is absurd, as is the idea that all EU nationals will want low-skilled work – some will be children, pensioners, professionals or business owners in their own right.
“There are some industries, particularly residential care, hospitality and construction, where this will simply not be possible. In these cases, employers may be considering how they find other sources of workers, how they meet customer demand and, ultimately, whether they face going out of business.”
He added that the proposed changes to free movement were “not particularly radical” and just amended the current model to include a wider range of skills and lower salaries, but there does not seem to be any long-term focus.
“EU workers who are here before the end of 2020 still have the right to pre-settled status, five years leave to remain and access to the labour market,” he said. “But, the main issue is around what happens when those EU migrants stop working in the future – who replaces them?
“This is something that employers will be considering today as they begin to understand the proposed changes.”