UK businesses call for looser immigration rules to boost growth

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A London Organisation has urged Britain to create a programme of temporary work visas to boost economic growth and resolve a dispute with the EU over trade rules in Northern Ireland.

The Confederation of British Industry Director-General, Tony Danker, ahead of the organisation’s annual conference said “we don’t have enough Brits to go round for the existing vacancies, and there’s a skills mismatch in any case.

“Let’s have economic migration in areas where we aren’t going to get the people and skills at home anytime soon. In return, let’s make those visas fixed-term,” Danker said.

Robert Jenrick, Britain’s immigration minister said the government’s aim remained to cut the number of foreigners coming to Britain.

“Overall,  our ambition is to reduce net migration. We think that’s what the British public wants. That was one of the driving forces in the votes to leave the European Union in 2016,’’ Jenrick told Sky News.

The number of EU migrants in Britain has fallen sharply since the referendum and the introduction in 2021 of visa rules that no longer favour them over migrants from the rest of the world.

While the number of non-EU migrants has risen to fill the gap, businesses said the work visa system was less flexible than the previous free movement allowed for EU citizens and stops them from hiring low-paid workers.

Danker also called on the government to sort out a dispute with the EU over how the bloc’s rules should apply in Northern Ireland, which prompted the EU to suspend cooperation in areas such as scientific research.

“I say to Brexiteers, the best guarantor of Brexit is an economy that grows. Its biggest risk is one that doesn’t,” Danker said.

Despite a slowing economy, Britain faces labour shortages which the Bank of England fears would exacerbate the highest inflation in more than 40 years.

Earlier, Britain’s budget watchdog said the country was already probably in recession and gave a subdued medium-term growth forecast which showed a greater reliance on immigration to boost output than it had predicted earlier.