Employers warn immigration restrictions could make North poorer post-Brexit
CBI says government proposals would limit companies employing overseas workers who earn less than £30,000
Angela McGowan: “A one-year limit on workers earning less than £30,000 would encourage firms to hire a different person each year, needlessly increasing costs and discouraging migrants from integrating into communities”
The UK government’s post-Brexit immigration proposals could “make Northern Ireland poorer” because they will restrict companies from employing overseas workers who earn less than £30,000 (€34,200), a leading business body has warned.
A new study by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) released on Tuesday highlights that if a new UK visa system, which is currently under consideration, is introduced after the UK leaves the EU it could create severe difficulties for businesses in the North that rely heavily on overseas workers.
The CBI said the proposals recommended by the UK’s Migration Advisory Committee could prevent businesses employing workers on salaries of less than £30,000 for more than a year under a new visa system.
The lobby group is warning that these proposals would “stifle” the Northern Ireland economy because when it comes to salaries in the North 71 per cent of workers currently earn less than £30,000 a year and the median private sector wage is £22,016.
Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland director, said businesses in the North were already struggling to recruit workers with the skills they needed.
“Installing further barriers via these proposals will make Northern Ireland poorer,” she said. “Regional research carried out by CBI NI last year suggested that a 50 per cent reduction in EU inward migration could reduce local GDP by more than 5 per cent by 2041.”
CBI NI believes the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland would be particularly hard hit by the proposed post-Brexit immigration policy as 72 per cent of its workers earn under £30,000.
Ms McGowan said: “Continued access to overseas workers after Brexit is vital to drive growth, innovation and prosperity in Northern Ireland.A one-year limit on workers earning less than £30,000 would encourage firms to hire a different person each year, needlessly increasing costs and discouraging migrants from integrating into communities.
“Leaving the EU should be an opportunity to develop an independent immigration policy that works for business by being both open to allow our economy to grow and controlled to restore public confidence.”