New figures demonstrate London’s business concern about £30,000 post-Brexit salary threshold

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Over half (57%) of London businesses say that a £30,000 salary threshold for (EU and non-EU) migrants working in the UK post-Brexit would worsen London’s skills shortages, also (50% say) negatively impacting London’s housing and infrastructure projects.

Two-thirds (68%) of the capital’s businesses say it would reduce the supply of low-skilled labour in London, particularly.

The figures released today by London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (to coincide with an immigration discussion event* for businesses that LCCI is hosting in partnership with Fragomen and Migration Matters Trust) are further evidence of business concern regarding the government's proposed salary level for work migration post Brexit.

LCCI commissioned ComRes to poll over 500 businesses in the capital regarding the £30,000 salary threshold that has been proposed in the government's Immigration White Paper.

David Frost, Chief Executive of London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said:

"In the first half of 2019 over 60% of London businesses that tried to recruit encountered difficulties securing candidates with the right skills.  It's important that after Brexit the UK's immigration policy does not make the domestic skills challenge worse.

57% of London businesses that we polled fear that a £30,000 threshold would worsen skills shortages in the capital, with 68% saying it will particularly reduce the supply of low-skilled labour. It's encouraging that there are indications that this salary threshold may be reconsidered by the next government, but until a lower level is proposed then businesses in the capital will remain concerned.”

The results showed:

  • 68% of London business decision makers agreed that a £30,000 salary threshold for EU and non-EU migrants working in the UK would reduce the supply of low-skilled labour for London businesses
  • 57% agreed that the threshold would worsen skills shortages in the capital
  • 50% agreed that the threshold would jeopardise the building and development of housing and infrastructure projects in London
  • 63% disagreed that London should have a lower salary threshold for migrants than the rest of the UK
  • 67% agreed that there should not be any difference in the salary threshold for EU and non-EU migrants

Commenting on the £30,000 threshold proposal, Julia Onslow-Cole, Fragomen Partner - Global Government Strategies, said:

“Multiple business sectors are concerned about the proposed £30,000 salary threshold.  And that’s not just within the U.K. itself.  For example, I was in Silicon Valley recently, talking to tech companies – who are worried about the impact that threshold would have on their U.K base, staff and suppliers.  
 
UK business and business organisations were rapid in voicing widespread concern about the £30,000 figure to government.  But whilst it’s welcome that the Home Secretary has asked for the figure to be revisited, the process of reviewing the threshold isn’t a swift one, inevitably leading to a continuation of concern and even delayed investment.  The figure needs to be lowered soon.”

Chair of Migration Matters Trust, Barbara Roche, said:

"It is vital to maintain the success and dynamism of London's entrepreneurial economy.  That means that government needs to listen seriously to the voice of business. The results of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry polling dramatically illustrate the worries and concerns of London businesses. It is clear that there is real anxiety about the impact a £30,000 threshold will have on skills shortages.

In order for enterprise to flourish in the capital, so that new jobs can be created and further investment attracted, business needs certainty about staff recruitment. That is why the government needs an urgent rethink about the high level of the threshold".

Further quotes:

LCCI Member, Brompton:

Lorne Vary, Chief Financial & Business Development Officer, said:

“The £30,000 salary threshold for recruiting EU nationals is yet another slap across the face for UK manufacturers like ourselves. It will erode diversity within the workplace, increase recruiting competition which will inevitability push salary budgets to the limit as employers battle to secure the right candidates with the right skills and behaviours. Quite simply it is illogical.”

LCCI Member, City Cruises:

Rita Beckwith OBE, Chief Executive, said:

“It is disappointing to note that the Government have not yet taken account of the views of many SME’s on the impact of the £30,000 salary threshold for migrants to work in the UK post-Brexit.  Many roles in our company were filled by EU migrants, most of whom returned home with Brexit looming.  With record employment figures in the UK, wage expectations have risen and jobs between £18,000 and £29,000 have been extremely difficult to fill, resulting in increased costs of interviews and recruitment. We welcome the fact that the Home Secretary has said the threshold will be revisited and hope that the voice of business will be listened to.”

LCCI Member, Middlesex University:

Professor Tim Blackman, Vice-Chancellor, said:

“A £30K threshold for migrants would significantly affect our staff. Around 4% of our workforce earn salaries lower than £31,000 but they occupy critical roles such as graduate teaching assistants (GLAs), technicians and administrators. The threshold would also impact on progress towards Government priorities such as promotion of STEM - the majority of affected GLAs work in STEM and Business Studies such as Computer Science, Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology. We strongly urge the new Government Administration to think again and reverse a policy that would be so detrimental to the higher education sector.”

ENDS

Media contact
Steven Reilly-Hii
T: +44 (0)207 203 1897                     
M: +44 (0)7827 241528
E: sreilly-hii@londonchamber.co.uk

 

NOTES TO EDITOR: 

Full polling question and results:

The UK government's Immigration White Paper proposes that in order to live and work in the UK after Brexit, migrants must be earning over £30,000.

To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statements about the proposed £30,000 salary threshold for EU and non-EU migrants working in the UK?

  1. A £30,000 salary threshold on migrants would reduce the supply of low-skilled labour for London businesses
    68% agree.  23% disagree.  9% don't know.
     
  2. There should not be any difference in the salary threshold for EU and non-EU migrants
    67% agree.  22% disagree.  11% don't know.
     
  3. A £30,000 salary threshold on migrants would worsen skills shortages in the capital
    57% agree.  32% disagree.  11% don't know.
     
  4. A £30,000 salary threshold would jeopardise the building and development of housing and infrastructure projects in London
    50% agree.  32% disagree.  18% don't know.
     
  5. A £30,000 salary threshold on migrants would increase the skills level of the London workforce
    37% agree.  47% disagree.  16% don't know.
     
  6. London should have a lower salary threshold for migrants than the rest of the UK
    22% agree.  63% disagree.  15% don't know.

ComRes surveyed 503 London business leaders online between 10 May and 11 June 2019. Data were weighted to be representative of all London businesses by company size and broad industry sector. ComRes is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Full data tables are available at www.comresglobal.com.