The Law Society says the Government’s recent announcements on the immigration cap will not address the damage it causes to the UK’s competitiveness abroad.
Following the Home Secretary’s speech on immigration to the Policy Exchange today, confirming that the cap for highly skilled workers will be put on a more restrictive footing, the Society warns that the UK’s international competitiveness will be at risk as long as the cap remains.
The Home Secretary also said the limit would be changed each year.
Law Society chief executive Desmond Hudson says:
“Tweaking the cap is going to make little difference. If anything, changing the cap limit each year will only bring uncertainty for businesses and hinder forward planning. Any cap on highly skilled workers in the UK sends the wrong message to markets across the world, putting our competitiveness at risk.
“The world’s business community will no longer look to the UK for commercial legal services, they will look at jurisdictions that allow greater mobility and in turn have the best, specialist legal talent.
“The fact that this week the Home Affairs Select Committee found the Government is concentrating on the wrong sector of immigration to achieve its stated aim of reducing net migration shows that not only is the cap preventing the business community from climbing out of the recession, but also that it will not actually work to reduce migrants by the tens of thousands predicted.”
The HASC reported earlier this week that if a permanent cap were implemented at the current temporary rate of five per cent, the reduction in net migration would only amount to less than one per cent.
However, in an encouraging move, the Prime Minister has announced that intra-company transfers should not be part of the annual limit.
Desmond Hudson says: “It does appear that the Government is beginning to see how important for the recovery highly skilled migrant workers are. Legal practices need expertise from outside the EU to supplement their already strong legal knowledge for the benefit of clients doing business overseas.
“However, the cap remains a major stumbling block to maintaining the UK’s standing as the jurisdiction of choice for the world.”