Immigration plans would “devastate” construction

Published:  20 December, 2018

The Immigration White Paper shows the government isn’t listening to the business community, according to the Federation of Master Builders.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid’s recently-released Immigration White Paper outlines Britain’s post-Brexit immigration plans, with the intent of reducing net immigration.

It announced plans to scrap the current cap on the number of skilled workers such as doctors or engineers from the EU and elsewhere, consult on the idea of a minimum salary of £30,000 per annum for migrants seeking five-year visas, and allow low-skilled workers to stay in the country for 12 months without a job offer during the transitional period.

Brian Berry, Chief Executive of the FMB, has criticised the Paper and said it shows that the government is not listening to the business community, and will “devastate” the construction industry.

He said: “Despite more than two years of constructive engagement, what has been proposed by Ministers takes on none of our feedback.

“If the Government wants to jeopardise the UK economy for the sake of meeting an arbitrary immigration target, it’s going the right way about it.”

Berry said the £30,000 salary threshold was “worrying” as he thinks immigration policy should be based on what will make the economy stronger and more productive, rather than being based on numbers.

The White Paper states that it will make no allowances for low-skilled workers. Berry said: “This is wrong on two levels – firstly, the definition of low skilled will cover most construction tradespeople and secondly, genuinely low skilled workers, such as labourers, are essential to the safe and smooth running of any construction site.”

With regards to the 12-month work visa limit, Berry said this “simply won’t cut it” because SMEs, which he says make up 99% of the industry, do not advertise for roles internationally. He also questioned why a migrant would want to work in the UK for just 12 months when they can settle roots in other countries for much longer.

Berry added: “The Government describes the construction and house building sectors as strategic and central to delivering its own aims.

“However, the plans set out today would make it impossible to meet the Government’s house building targets and the world-class infrastructure projects we have in the pipeline will be nothing but a pipe dream.”

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