UK companies fear hit from Brexit migration rules – CBI


FILE PHOTO: A Confederation of British Industry (CBI) logo is seen during their annual conference in London, Britain November 9, 2015. REUTERS/Toby Melville

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s plans to introduce a new system for immigration after Brexit risk being too complicated and causing a shortage of skilled workers, a leading employers group said on Thursday.

More than 70% of 304 businesses surveyed by the Confederation of British Industry said reduced access to skilled workers was the biggest threat to the country’s labor market.

More than half of the companies said they would be hurt if immigration policy was not simplified. 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed an Australian-style, points-based system for deciding who can come into Britain to work after Brexit with people of “exceptional talent” being fast-tracked into the country.

“It’s clear what’s weighing on businesses minds is uncertainty about the new immigration system,” CBI policy director Matthew Fell said. “Whatever the final shape, it needs to be simple from its first day of introduction.”

Net migration by EU citizens to Britain dropped to 48,000 in the 12 months to June, its lowest since the start of quarterly records in 2009, according to official data published last month.

The CBI said 65% of respondents in its survey believed Britain’s labor market had become a less attractive place in which to invest and do business over the past five years, the highest proportion since the survey began 22 years ago. 

The survey also found weaker hiring expectations than in 2017 and 2018.

The CBI survey was conducted between Aug. 27 and Oct. 4. The 304 companies who took part employ 830,000 people.

Reporting by Joanna Taylor; editing by William Schomberg

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