CBI calls for ‘controlled and open’ UK immigration system

The UK needs a controlled but open immigration system to attract investment and address shortages, says Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Director-General, Carolyn Fairbairn.

Following the news of the Windrush generation, Fairbairn has written in the Financial Times calling for a balanced approach to immigration to support prosperity

Within the op-ed, Fairbairn was clear that recently exposed cases of individual mistreatment should not be attributed to bureaucratic errors but the result of the government’s fixation on reducing net migration to the “tens of thousands”. Rather than a policy based on numbers, she stated that the UK’s immigration system should focus on the contribution people make to Britain’s society and economy.

As the UK leaves the EU, ensuring that immigration is controlled is important to restoring public confidence and an aim that business supports. Fairbairn equally stresses that remaining open to EU migration and being a country where Europeans want to come to live and work is vital for a successful post-Brexit Britain.​

The CBI’s Director General outlined several practical steps the government can take to improve immigration policy:

– Scrap the net migration target which has driven a narrow debate focused on numbers rather than the contributions overseas workers make.

– Ensure the new immigration system is simple, fast and easy for employers to navigate – regardless of its final specific design.

– Reach a comprehensive agreement on migration and mobility with the EU – including a preferential route for European workers. Copying and pasting the non-EU visa system would be a disaster, hitting smaller companies hardest.

– Increase investment in public services from the proceeds of migration, to address public concern about growing pressures they are under.

Finally, Fairbairn emphasised that the UK should always be open to overseas workers who make the UK more prosperous. She went on to point out though this is not currently the case with the cap on skilled-workers from outside the EU being continually hit since December.

She said, it does not make sense that a consequence of the NHS needing more nurses and doctors is businesses being denied visas for highly skilled roles. Reform to increase capacity within the cap is urgently needed, Fairbairn added.

Article published 27th April 2018