UK immigration policy 'deeply damaging'

21 Nov 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The changes to the UK immigration system have been dubbed “deeply damaging” the the country's growth by a group of economists.

In a letter to the Financial Times, the group called on the chancellor George Osborne to defend his pro-growth agenda by modifying the cuts to UK work permit numbers and other viable immigration routes.

The impending shift to limit economic migrants with UK work permits to a five-year stay in the vast majority of cases is of particular concern to the group, who warned that by discouraging migrants from settling in the country permanently the government is implementing policies that are “deeply damaging to the competitiveness of our science and research sectors and to the wider economy”.

“The policy could almost have been designed to deter the migrants whom we most want and, for those who do come, to expel many of those we would most like to remain,” the letter adds.

While the new policy is yet to be confirmed, it looks likely that the Home Office will approve the Migration Advisory Committee's recommendations and introduce a minimum salary threshold before people are permitted to apply for permanent settlement or bring their family over to the UK.

Among those to have signed the letter are Chris Pissarides, a Nobel laureate and Richard Portes, president for the Centre for Economic Policy Research. A number of people from overseas who have immigrated to Britain have also signed the letter, including Professor Nobu Kiotaki from Japan and Professor Sir Partha Dasgupta, originally from Bangladesh.

They signatories from abroad observed in the letter: “Had such a policy been in place when some of the signatories to this letter were considering coming to this country, they might have chosen not to come at all, or would not have been allowed to remain.”