Letter highlights damage caused by UK work permit cap

30 Dec 2013 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The cap on net migration, which aims to reduce migrants coming to Britain through all UK visa routes, risks damaging the British economy.

This is the view expressed in a recent open letter sent to The Guardian by a number of key business people. Signed by Sam Bowman, research director of the Adam Smith Institute, Simon Walker, director general at the Institute of Directors and Mark Littlewood, director general at the Institute of Economic Affairs, among others, the letter criticised the government's plans to cut net migration to the tens of thousands.

Writing in response to an article titled 'It's not racist to be anxious over large-scale immigration' from earlier this month, the letter stated: “The government's net migration cap is hurting Britain's economic recovery and long-term fiscal health.”

It highlighted the problems that UK work permits can create due to the time delay involved in applying for a visa for a prospective employee, suggesting that some “international firms may prefer to base themselves in countries where they can bring in staff from abroad more easily than they can in the UK”.

Further difficulties were highlighted in relation to entrepreneurship. Immigrants are often found in the most innovative of industries, demonstrated by the fact that around half of tech startups in California's Silicon Valley are founded by immigrants, and around a quarter of London's Silicon Roundabout startups have foreign-born founders. By capping immigration, the signatories argue, the government is imposing a “cap on innovative industries Britain needs to thrive”.

The letter was also signed by Ryan Bourne, head of economic research at the Centre for Policy Studies, and Philip Salter, director, The Entrepreneurs Network.