UK immigration cap criticised by mayor

31 Dec 2010 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The UK immigration cap on skilled workers has been criticised by the mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Johnson said that many employers in the capital had been left "hacked off" due to the fact that they were now struggling to bring talented people to the country on UK work permits.

Mr Johnson explained that a range of sectors are claiming to have been affected by the quotas. Banking has been particularly hard hit due to the further disincentive of the 50p tax rate. However, other "brilliant firms", in the arts world and lawyers for example, also told the mayor that they are concerned that the restriction on UK work permits is preventing them from accessing talent.

He added that he believes that the government understands that "there is a case for flexibility" but warned that there is "a risk that the necessity of putting up a public show of rhetoric will do possible damage to London's competitiveness".

The cap on UK work permits for the Tier 1 and Tier 2 categories will come into force from April 2011. From this point, the two groups of work permits will be limited to an annual total of 21,700.

The comments follow a report by think tank the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr), which claimed that UK immigration is unlikely to be reduced significantly over the next year.

"Reducing net migration by more than half would be a challenging task for any government, at any time, but it is made harder in the UK by the fact that government has no, or limited, control over some major immigration flows," explained the ippr.