// BRC says the new immigration system proposal “fails” to meet needs in retail
// The new immigration system will take effect from January 1, 2021, once freedom of movement with EU ends
// Migrants will now have to gain a visa through a revised points-based system
Leading industry groups have criticised the government’s new immigration system, arguing that it does not meet the needs of the of the retail sector.
In a statement, the BRC said the new system – which will come into effect on January 1, 2021 – will impact recruitment and have a domino effect on supply chains.
This morning the Home Office revealed the details of the UK’s revised points-based immigration system once freedom of movement with the EU ends at the conclusion of the Brexit transition period on December 31.
Migrants from both the EU and non-EU countries will have to gain at least 70 points to be eligible for a skilled work visa, with the aim of creating what the government described a “high wage, high skill, high productivity economy”.
In the new system, EU and non-EU citizens will be awarded 10 points straight away if they can speak English to a certain level.
A job offer from a Home Office-approved employer or sponsor, and a job at a “required skill level” will then earn prospective migrants 20 points each.
Other points could be awarded for certain qualifications and whether there is a shortage in a particular occupation.
A points system existed previously, but it only pertained to non-EU citizens and the system of allocating points was slightly different.
Meanwhile, for migrants who have job offer in the UK, the minimum salary threshold will be reduced to £25,600 – down from £30,000.
Those who earn less than the new threshold – but no less than £20,480 – still have a chance to apply for a skilled work visa by “trading” points on specific characteristics against their salary.
Migrants will also need a required skill level of RQF3 or above – equivalent to A-level – rather than just graduate level, as is currently the case.
In addition, there would no longer be an overall cap on the number of workers who enter the UK on skilled work visas, as is currently the case for non-EU citizens.
However, Irish citizens will continue to be able to enter and live in the UK as they do now.
The BRC’s business and regulation director Tom Ironside said: “Although we welcome the reduction in the salary threshold, it is disappointing that the government has not understood the needs of the economy and the vital contribution of workers supporting the operation of warehouses, food factories and city-centre stores.
“We continue to call for a system that enables straightforward recruitment from a range of skill levels and avoids significant increases to the cost of employment.
“Retailers rely on complex supply chains and, for these to function effectively, must be able to access an adequate supply of workers.
“When vacancies cannot be filled from the local labour market, businesses must be able to recruit from the widest talent pool available across all skill levels.”
CBI director-general Carolyn Fairbairn said: “Firms recognise and accept that freedom of movement is ending, and have sought a system that is both open and controlled, valuing people’s contribution beyond their salary while retaining public confidence.
“Several aspects of the new system will be welcomed by business, particularly abolishing the cap on skilled visas, introducing a new post-study work visa for overseas students and reducing the minimum salary threshold from £30,000.
“Nonetheless, in some sectors firms will be left wondering how they will recruit the people needed to run their businesses. With already low unemployment, firms in care, construction, hospitality, food and drink could be most affected.
“Firms know that hiring from overseas and investing in the skills of their workforce and new technologies is not an either/or choice – both are needed to drive the economy forward.”