UK immigration system 'damaging the economy'

31 Mar 2014 | Posted by Carl Thomas

A Lords committee has claimed that the UK immigration system is damaging the British economy.

The committee on UK 'soft power' claimed that overly complicated regulations and unbalanced rhetoric on migration is proving to be an unhealthy mix for the country as a whole.

The committee went into further detail, for example looking at the inclusion of students in the immigration figures when looking at the Home Office targets of lowering net migration to the tens of thousands before the next general election. This was described as "destructive" and "disingenuous" by the report.

A Home Office spokesperson responded to the calls to remove students from the net migration targets, stating: "Students will remain in the net migration statistics because they are not all temporary visitors. They have an impact on communities, public services and infrastructure."

The decision to include student numbers has been criticised by many as adding to a growing sense that the UK does not welcome migrants in work or education. Indeed, Professor Colin Riordan, president and vice-chancellor of Cardiff University, told the committee that the number of students coming from abroad dipped by 0.4 per cent, when growth was projected at 15 per cent.

A number of other experts and commentators were asked for their opinions for the 155-page report by the Lords committee. Almost all of them reportedly stated that the new UK visa policies are "harming the assets that build the UK's soft power" – meaning areas such as legal services, music, education and film.

John Micklethwait, editor of the economist, said: "I think visas are just a crime. It is economically suicidal. It is possible one of the most bananas policies we could humanly have."

He went on to explain that, in addition to harming the way Britain is viewed abroad, the system causes unnecessary problems for companies looking to recruit, which is one of the quickest ways to stifle growth.