London’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry is calling for a separate UK visa system for the capital, to ensure 770,000 EU citizens living and working there can continue to do so after the UK leaves the EU.
The report said the loss of EU workers would be would be ‘economically harmful, impacting on various key industries and putting pressure on public funds’. EU migrants account for 15 per cent of London’s population, contribute more than £26 billion to the city’s economy and pay around £7 billion in tax annually.
EU migrants make up around a quarter of the financial services workforce and around a third of those working in the construction industry.
The Chamber’s report is calling on the Government to introduce a London work visa and guarantee indefinite leave to remain for those EU citizens already working in the capital. It also wants capital work permits which would allow the city to decide on its own levels of migration.
In addition, the Chamber wants London to be classed as a “targeted migration area’ and for the city to have its own shortage occupation list similar to Scotland’s.
The Chamber’s chief executive, Colin Stanbridge, said, “Immigration has underpinned London's economic, social and cultural development over centuries, making it the great city it is today.
“In the approaching post-Brexit scenario, for London to remain competitive, we need to not only recruit the very best but also to be able to identify where we have skills shortages and act swiftly to address these.”
The report pointed out that other countries already have regional visa schemes to fill skilled jobs. Australia has a regional sponsored migration scheme and Canada runs a temporary foreign worker programme to ensure industries have access to the talent they need.