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UK Business Needs Immigration More Than Ever

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One headline dominated the papers and news reports this month; the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics showed net migration - the difference between the number of people entering and the number of people exiting the UK, was 330,000 for the year ending March 2015. This figure is a 40 percent increase on net migration figures for the same period last year and the highest figure ever recorded.

Immigration minister James Brokenshire said the latest data was "deeply disappointing".

"While these figures underline the challenges we need to meet to reduce net migration, they should also act as a further wake-up call for the EU. Current flows of people across Europe are on a scale we haven’t seen since the end of the Second World War," he said in a statement

However, the Institute of Directors, an influential UK business group stated on the same day that the Government is “punishing business” with its “bizarre” target to reduce net Immigration.

"Scrabbling around to find measures to hit a bizarre and unachievable migration target is no way to give British businesses the stable environment they need,” said Simon Walker, the organisation’s director general.

"Combined with ministers' increasingly strong rhetoric on Immigration, the UK's reputation as an open, competitive economy is under threat."

Are these comments an indication that the Governments aggressive targets to reduce net migration from the tens of thousands to the hundreds of thousands putting it at odds with the business community, a community it relies strongly on for support, not to mention votes?

How Migrants Contribute to British Business

The plain fact is that migrants contribute billions of pounds to the UK economy. Studies have found that:

  • Between 2001 and 2011, European arrivals contributed £20bn and those from outside Europe £5bn
  • Immigrants who arrived since 2000 were 43 percent less likely than British people to receive welfare or tax credits, and 7 percent less likely to live in social housing
  • Migrants are well educated, with 62 percent of those from the first 15 EU countries and 25 percent from the A10 countries having a degree, compared with 24 percent in the UK
  • Skills held by migrant workers allowed businesses to expand their workforce, to fulfil existing contracts and also to take on more work
  • Migrant entrepreneurs are behind one in seven UK companies turning over £1 million to £200 million. As of March, 2014 around 500,000 people from 155 countries launched businesses in the UK and were responsible for creating 14 percent of total jobs

A dynamic Immigration policy allows business to choose from a greater pool of talented workers than they could if they were restricted to UK employees only. This applies particularly to sectors such as technology, where small tech start-ups rely heavily on migrant workers to provide specialist skills.

Migrants and Welfare – Problem or Government Smoke-screen?

One of the key factors that Government uses to hammer home its reduction in net migration policy is the strain migrants put on public funds. Whist it is true that more schools and health facilities are needed at present in some areas to cope with the increase in new arrivals to the UK, this is counter-balanced by the enormous contribution migrants make to the UK economy.

When it comes to accessing public funds here are a few facts to bear in mind:

  • Most non-EEA nationals who are subject to Immigration control are not permitted access to “public funds” (such as jobseekers’ allowance or tax credits). A condition of nearly all PBS entry into the UK is that the applicant must have enough money to support him or herself without accessing public funds
  • There have been many restrictions introduced for EEA nationals with regards to access to public funds, therefore, although it is difficult to quantify, the amount of EEA nationals accessing UK benefits is likely to be small
  • Migrants who are awaiting or have been granted Asylum are able to access benefits and social housing, but one must remember that Asylum seekers are forbidden to work and they are almost always housed in ‘hard to let’ properties and have no choice as to where they end up

Migrants are vital to the UK remaining a competitive player on the global financial market and for creating new jobs and growing our existing businesses. At OTS solicitors we are committed to helping UK employers attain top talent through sponsorship visas as well as helping entrepreneurs and investors gain access to the UK to contribute their unique talents to the economy.

To find out how we can help you, please phone our London office on 0207 936 9960 to make an appointment with one of our Immigration experts.