UK immigration rules 'pose risk to businesses'

16 Sep 2011 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The coalition government's changes to UK immigration risk damaging the country's businesses and economy.

This is the view expressed by the Law Society, which has suggested that the proposals made in the UK Border Agency's latest consultation – Employment Related Settlement Tier 5 and Overseas Domestic Workers – "risk harm to the legal and other business sectors in the UK and will not provide fairness for migrants".

Legal practices could find themselves particularly affected by restrictions imposed on the international skilled workforce due to the reliance of the large City firms on the expertise of skilled migrant workers from outside of the European Economic Area.

John Wotton, president of the Law Society, suggested that a large number of business leaders recognise the fact that the government will struggle to lower UK immigration in line with its target or 'tens of thousands'. However, he added that many are "reluctant to speak out because immigration is an emotive issue".

In response to the consultation directly, he stated quite plainly the in the longer-term, restricting the mobility of lawyers into the UK is likely to "harm the competitiveness of firms and inhibit their ability to develop business internationally".

The Law Society is not the first to suggest that the restrictions imposed on Tier 2 work permits and other UK visas could harm the country's economy. Earlier this month the Migration Advisory Council stated that for every drop of 10,000 people in the numbers of Tier 1 and Tier 2 migrants, around £560 million will be sliced off the country's GDP.