The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has revealed the damage that the government’s immigration plans could do to London’s economy, as crucial sectors such as construction could struggle to fill key posts
Khan urged the new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to “fully recognise the positive impact immigration and Freedom of Movement has had in London and the UK” and come forward with new immigration plans to ensure the capital and UK can continue to attract European and international workers following Brexit.
Speaking to the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Khan argued that immigration has enhanced London and the UK’s economy and communities, making the capital an unrivalled, vibrant global city
However, new City Hall research published today (30 July) shows that crucial sectors such as construction, social care and hospitality could struggle to fill key posts under the proposals outlined in the government’s Immigration White Paper.
The study finds that employers could struggle to fill vacancies in occupations that account for around half of all jobs in the capital. Nurseries, cleaning firms and homebuilders and employers with roles regarded as ‘lower-skilled’ risk being unable to make long-term hires from abroad under the government’s plans.
In particular, the Mayor is concerned that the proposed £30,000 minimum salary threshold for Tier 2 skilled worker visas would prevent the recruitment of long-term migrant workers in roles where almost 150,000 European Londoners are currently employed across the capital – with a quarter of the ineligible jobs found in construction and hospitality occupations alone.
The Mayor believes the Government should set the Tier 2 salary threshold at around £21,000 per year, the equivalent of the London Living Wage.
Khan also wants to see a more devolved approach to immigration with London and the regions given more flexibility and control to attract the talent they need.
Proposals include giving London the ability to create its own dynamic Shortage Occupation List to speed up recruitment to key vacancies, and introducing a freelance visa, recognising the increasingly important role that freelance workers play in the new economy.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “London is known across the world for our openness, our diversity and our innovation and I’m proud to be the most pro-business Mayor that this City has ever had. Making London a fairer city and ensuring that all Londoners get the opportunities that our city gave to me when I was growing up, is one of my core priorities as Mayor.
“If the government’s proposed immigration changes go ahead, then I’m fearful for the impact they’ll have on the fabric of our city. The impact on the construction sector would make the housing crisis worse. And the impact on public services, including our schools and the NHS, could have devastating consequences for years to come.
“The new Prime Minister should instead fully recognise the positive impact immigration and Freedom of Movement has had in London and the UK and immediately take steps to reform the immigration system in a way that enables us to unlock the potential of Londoners. If he is unable to do this, then he should let Londoners take back control and give City Hall the devolved powers that he previously called for as Mayor.”