Budget 2013: Immigration ought to be encouraged to support economic growth – but don’t hold your breath

Across the country the very firms which are supposed to be seizing opportunities to return the economy to growth are encountering the tangle of immigration regulations which obstruct a significant part of their business plans to win export orders and expand into new markets.

Don Flynn is the Director of the Migrants’ Rights Network

Immigration will not figure large – or at all – in the chancellor’s speech tomorrow. Mr Osborne is unlikely to want to confuse the supposedly good news story coming out the Home Office which tells of progress towards reducing net migration to the tens of thousands with his budget announcement.

But things have been going on behind the scenes which show the government is bending to some of the pressure being applied by business interests to slacken some of its more rigid policies.

From early April, new immigration rules will exempt some high value immigrants from the need to prove adequate knowledge of English as well as ending a ‘cooling off’ clause which requires skilled workers on employment contracts to absent themselves from the UK for 12 months in between jobs.

STEM subject graduates with higher level qualifications will have some of the rights to post-study work lost during the last phase of government reform restored, allowing them easier access to jobs in the science and technology sectors.

Is this enough to allow immigration policy to fulfil its potential to contribute towards returning the UK economy to growth?

Not according to Jonathan Portes, head of the NIESR. In a piece in the Observer last weekend, he called for more sweeping measures to liberalise immigration policy, describing it as a means to boost growth in the short term and improve productive capacity in the medium term.

Neither does this hold true for tech companies which aim to be part of the industrial renaissance which is suppose to re-balance the UK economy in favour of manufacturing. The report published yesterday by the Social Market Foundation has revealed an annual shortfall of 40,000 STEM subject graduates from UK universities ready to work in the businesses that are expected to lead the revival.

The government has proclaimed the fairness of its immigration policies, which it says still leave the UK open to the “brightest and the best” who can make a really significant contribution to the UK economy.

But closer to the coalface of British industry the call is not so much for the super-excellent elite, but rather the “merely very good worker” who is motivated and equipped with the skills which companies need to regain their competitive edge.

The problem is well-illustrated by the situation of businesses whose growth is expected to aid the UK in returning to prosperity.

The CIPD report published last week gave a good picture of the problems they are encountering as the result of immigration policies which presume that the right to employ non-EU workers should be reserved to very large businesses which can afford the enormous costs associated with navigating the UKBA’s ‘licensed sponsor’ compliance regime.

Businesses are expected to have in-depth knowledge of the current state of immigration regulation but often get a poor level of support in the way of training and responses to queries from officials.

Across the country the very firms which are supposed to be seizing opportunities to return the economy to growth are encountering the tangle of immigration regulations which obstruct a significant part of their business plans to win export orders and expand into new markets.

As a consequence of this squeeze smaller and medium size companies in particular are pegged back in their plans to take on more workers from the resident UK portion of the labour force.

A budget that is really geared towards getting growth back into the economy would do the daring thing of elbowing its way onto the Home Office’s immigration policy terrain and proclaim a growth strategy that is not just geared to the needs of the elites in their search for the brightest and the best, but also encompassed smaller businesses who want to incorporate migrant workers who are just plain good at what they are doing into their plans for growth.

19 Responses to “Budget 2013: Immigration ought to be encouraged to support economic growth – but don’t hold your breath”

  1. Mark

    So says Don Flynn, director of Migrants Rights Network. A completely impartial body.

  2. Sparky

    As if Migrant Rights Network give a monkeys about the economy. What hypocrisy. All they care about is the economic prosperity of immigrants. It’s rather like Aslef saying that they care deeply about the state of British infrastructure, and that’s why we need more train drivers.

  3. ArgieBee

    The usual lies repeated.

    The ‘STEM shortage lie’ is a classic. In reality 40% of UK students do STEM courses at university according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Less than half will get graduate level jobs.

  4. Newsbot9

    As usual, you ignore the statistics to attack Britain.

  5. Newsbot9

    Less than half go into *STEM-related jobs*, far fewer go into non-graduate jobs…and that’s related to the terrible state of the economy. And that is actually a HIGH proportion, since most people won’t go into a directly related field. Moreover, STEM courses are closing at record rates. The usual lies from you, as you say.

  6. CausticWally

    Sorry, I’m confused by this comment. If we are going to have trains don’t we need train drivers…?

  7. ArgieBee

    It is true that recent graduates in general face high unemployment and only a third, that find a job, get a “graduate level” job. We have a big problem of overqualification in the UK.

    Also recent computer science, engineering and physical science graduates face above average unemployment compared to other graduates but are more likely to get graduate level jobs. The same problems existed before 2008 e.g. computer science graduates have had the highest unemployment 6 months after graduating every year since HESA started reporting it in 2006.

    There is some interesting research by Professor Emma Smith of Birmingham University:
    //www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-14823042

    The issue isn’t lack of graduates, but a lack of entry level jobs and employers willing to take on and train graduates. It is much eaiser and cheaper to bring in someone with 5 years experience from outside the UK.
    If there is an issue, then it is with perceived quality and not quantity.
    Salaries and employers expectations play a part, The best engineering graduates are much better paid in finance and accountancy. While many employers are snobbish about taking on graduates from post-92 universities and don’t even target them in their milkround activities.
    Skilled immigration has contributed to the problem and won’t solve it.

  8. Newsbot9

    That’s right, the usual. Trade and prosperity is your enemy.

    There is certainly not a problem of overqualification, and your assault on the University system is wrecking Britain’s future – the subjects which are being dropped are STEM and other core subjects, and it’s redbricks most at risk. Meanwhile, the system is more expensive both for graduates – who will NOT now on average see a benefit from their degree, financially – and for the country.

    The reality is that the world is upskilling, and you want us to downskill. The problem with employment is because we’re in a disastrous, austerity-created depression (and likely triple-dip recession).

    You’re using that as an excuse to burn anything outside your low-wage factories.

  9. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  10. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  11. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  12. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  13. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  14. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  15. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  16. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  17. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  18. plunn

    are immigrants a benefit to the economy?

    Some do, but their performance is very mixed. The previous Government
    claimed that immigrants add 6 billion to our economy. What they did
    not say is that they also add to our population in almost exactly the
    same proportion as they add to production. Thus the benefit to the
    native population is very small – an outcome confirmed by major studies
    in the US, Canada and Holland and most recently by the House of Lords
    Select Committee on Economic Affairs. The previous Government’s own
    calculation, submitted in evidence to that Committee, implies an annual
    benefit to the resident population of only 62p per head a week (see
    White Paper Cm 7414 para 2.5).

    The conclusion of the House of Lords study was unambiguous:

    We have found no evidence for the argument, made by the
    Government, business and many others, that net immigration immigration
    minus emigration generates significant economic benefits for the
    existing UK population

  19. HopeNotHateBNP

    I agree with the overqualification problem, in fact I know of people personally who have been turned down for having a degree.

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