December 19, 2019 / 12:08 AM / 2 months ago

UK companies fear hit from Brexit migration rules - CBI

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s plans to introduce a new system for immigration after Brexit risk being too complicated and causing a shortage of skilled workers, an employers group said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: A bird flies as the sun rises behind the city of London financial district in London, Britain August 20, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

More than 70% of 304 businesses surveyed by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) said reduced access to skilled workers was the biggest threat to the country’s labour market.

Over half of the companies said they would be hurt if immigration policy were not simplified.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has proposed an Australian-style, points-based system for deciding who can come into Britain to work after Brexit with people of “exceptional talent” being fast-tracked into the country.

“It’s clear what’s weighing on businesses minds is uncertainty about the new immigration system,” CBI policy director Matthew Fell said. “Whatever the final shape, it needs to be simple from its first day of introduction.”

Net migration by EU citizens to Britain dropped to 48,000 in the 12 months to June, its lowest since the start of quarterly records in 2009, according to official data published last month.

A Home Office spokesman said: “As we end free movement, the new system will allow us to decide who comes to this country on the basis of the skills they have and the contribution they can make — not where they come from.”

The CBI said 65% of respondents in its survey believed Britain’s labour market had become a less attractive place in which to invest and do business over the past five years, the highest proportion since the survey began 22 years ago.

The survey also found weaker hiring expectations than in 2017 and 2018.

The CBI survey was conducted between Aug. 27 and Oct. 4. The companies who took part employ 830,000 people.

Reporting by Joanna Taylor; editing by William Schomberg

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