Vince Cable: Cap on UK work permits damaging economy

02 Oct 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

The Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable has suggested that the cap on UK work permits, which limits the number of skilled workers who can come to the country, risks damaging the country's economy.

Writing to Theresa May, Conservative home secretary, Cable said that there is a very real risk that the 20,700 limit of UK work permits will have a negative impact on growth. He stated in the letter, reported by the Financial Times: “I believe the time has come to remove this barrier to British growth.”

He made the statement in light of news that business demand for the permits is set to exceed the imposed limit for the first time since the 20,700 cutoff was introduced three years ago.

Cable suggested that one way of negotiating the problem should it be decided that the cap cannot be dropped altogether would be to 'roll over' the 6,780 unused visa allocations from the last financial year.

The business secretary certainly isn't alone in his views. Deputy director-general of the CBI, Katja Hall, has said that it is “absolutely essential” that the government makes the cap more flexible and urged the politicians responsible to start to think about how they might be able to change the policy in order to help British business.

She told the paper: “[These migrants have skills that we have a shortage of in the UK … so these people are essential to our recovery.”

Earlier this week, economists attacked policies from UKIP on financial grounds after reports suggested using a points-based system to keep immigration below 50,000 annually would be “economic lunacy”.

Simon Walker, director general of the Institute of Directors, noted that it is vital for the country to be able to access talented workers from overseas in order to keep the economy moving.