A study by an employer backed think-tank has revealed that unless Theresa May’s government accepts at least 200,000 foreign workers each year, the economy could face a Brexit catastrophe.
The Global Futures report, entitled, “A Case for immigration”, cited low productivity, an aging population and a shortage of key skilled workers, such as those needed in the NHS, meant that the country needed double the number of migrant workers than Mrs May wants to allow in.
The report, backed by three employer groups, criticises Labour and the Conservatives for refusing to be honest with the British public about the level of migration the UK requires. It warns that if the UK refuses to be flexible about its sources of talent, it could face a decade of slow growth similar to that of the Japanese economy.
The Conservative manifesto
The Conservative government’s manifesto, which was released earlier this week, has promised to slash immigration to below 100,000, even though this pledge, which has been on the table since 2009, has never been met.
One way the party plans to achieve their strategy is to increase the minimum income threshold for spouse visa applicants. Mrs May has also vowed to charge companies £2,000 a year for every skilled non-EU migrant they employ. Currently the immigration Skills Charge, which was only introduced last month, is set at £1,000.
The manifesto states:
"Skilled immigration should not be a way for government or business to avoid their obligations to improve the skills of the British workforce."
"So we will double the immigration Skills Charge levied on companies employing migrant workers, to £2,000 a year by the end of the parliament, using the revenue generated to invest in higher level skills training for workers in the UK."
Elderly population means more migrant workers needed
The Global Futures report has found that even if the retirement age is raised, the growing elderly population in the UK will require at least 130,000 to maintain the working population at its current level.
The report comments:
“Between 2000 and 2050, the number of people over 65 will double, whilst the number of over-85s will quadruple. The working population would need to double in order to maintain the ratio at its current level.”
It is clear from the Conservative manifesto that if they are re-elected back into power (which most polls are predicting), the rules on immigration will continue to be tightened, which may prove disastrous for the overall economy.
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Posted on: Friday, 19 May, 2017