Immigration: Scrap targets after Brexit, CBI urges

Workers tiling a roof Image copyright Getty Images

The net migration targets should be scrapped after Brexit, the Confederation of British Industry says.

Targets should be replaced with a system that ensures people coming to the UK make a positive contribution to the economy, the business group said.

Schools and hospitals should receive extra funding where demand is increased by immigration, the CBI added.

But the Home Office said it was “committed to bringing net migration down to… the tens of thousands.”

‘Immigrants good for economy’

Immigration has been shown time and again to bring net economic benefits to the UK, the CBI said.

Yet people have legitimate concern about the pressures immigration can have on public services and society, it said.

The way around this conundrum was to shift away from numbers and instead to focus on who could benefit the UK, it said.

This needn’t just be high earners, but anyone who can contribute.

“In just about every part of the economy a range of skills are required,” it said.

“Take housebuilding, which requires architects for the initial design, labourers to dig the foundations and electricians to help finish the job.”

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The contribution of EU workers to the UK economy was “profoundly important and will be needed in the future”, after the free movement of EU citizens comes to an end as part of Brexit, the CBI said.

There is an impetus to overhaul UK immigration policy after Brexit to make sure the system allows skilled people to come into the country from around the world, the CBI said.

“The stakes are high. Get it wrong, and the UK risks having too few people to run the health service, pick food crops or deliver products to stores around the country,” it added.

“We also risk harming our future as a global innovation hub, rooted in our longstanding ability to attract talented people the world over.”

The non-EU immigration system is “highly complex, time consuming and expensive, particularly for small businesses,” it said, so simply moving EU nationals into that system is “entirely unworkable”, it added.

Instead, EU citizens should be registered on arrival to the UK, and restrict their visit to three months “unless they can prove that they are working, studying or are self-sufficient”, the CBI said.

‘No uncontrolled immigration’

But the Home Office said it had no p

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