Pandering to anti-migrant sentiment is hurting the British economy.
Pandering to anti-migrant sentiment is hurting the British economy
In seeking to see off the threat from UKIP, David Cameron’s government has put a great deal of stock in appearing ‘tough’ on immigration.
Back in 2010 Cameron argued that it was “perfectly possible” to halve net migration without damaging companies or the economy.
Four years on and the results of this assumption are starting to come in; and it doesn’t bode well for the coalition.
According to a new study carried out by the University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory for the Financial Times, the number of highly skilled migrants from outside Europe fell by more than a third since between 2011 and 2013.
There were 28,000 fewer highly skilled migrants in the UK last year compared to 2011, a drop of just over 10 per cent.
As the FT (£) reports:
“While researchers stop short of blaming policy changes for the decline in skilled specialists from Asia, Africa and the Americas, the findings are clear: the reduction in non-EU hires between 2011 and 2013 has been mirrored by a corresponding 53 per cent rise in highly skilled migrants from older EU countries such as France and Germany.”
Particularly telling is a comment in the FT’s by the director general of the CBI John Cridland:
“I certainly pick up in international markets that there’s now a perception that the UK isn’t as open to highly skilled migrants and investors and entrepreneurs.”
In April 2011 the government abolished Labour’s ‘highly skilled’ visa route and introduced an annual cap on the number of skilled workers allowed into the UK. They also put an end to the post-study work visa, which had previously allowed overseas graduates to stay in Britain to look for work for two years after finishing their studies.
Responding to the findings, the business secretary Vince Cable told the FT that the net migration target was “not government policy”. He added that it “clearly had a damaging impact on UK plc by reducing the talent pool available to companies based here”.
Despite previously insisting that Britain is ‘still open for business’, it appears that pandering to anti-migrant sentiment is directly hurting the British economy.Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.