David Cameron has announced a crackdown on immigration from outside the EU, but the IoD’s director general Simon Walker says the prime minister’s comments regarding the cost of labour are a “red herring” in immigration debate
Cameron said that the government would be writing to the migration advisory committee (MAC) asking it to consider new rules for non-EU migration.
“This government is on the side of working people: in the past, it has been too easy for businesses to recruit from overseas, undermining those who want to work hard and do the right thing,” he said.
Responding to the comments, Walker said: “Business cannot have a deaf ear to the public’s concerns on immigration. However, focusing on the supposedly lower cost of migrant labour is a red herring.
“Among the 50 per cent of IoD members who hire from abroad, just 4 per cent say that the cost of labour has anything to do with it. The fundamental concern is about finding people with the skills needed by employers.
“Proposals to further increase the cost of visas is essentially a tax on employing people from abroad. This seems particularly odd given how dependent the UK economy is on international skills and expertise.
“The prime minister is absolutely right to focus on upskilling the domestic workforce, but there’s no quick fix and it could appear misguided to risk harming the economy today in the hope of seeing results a decade down the line.”
The proposals are part of the government’s plan to reduce net migration to the UK to the tens of thousands. Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics revealed that net migration to Britain has risen to 318,000 – an increase of 109,000 since 2013.