The government is considering a £1,000 a year levy on skilled EU workers hired by British firms, which could exacerbate the skills shortage
An immigration levy could be imposed on skilled EU workers, it has emerged. Home Office Minister Robert Goodwill told a House of Lords subcommittee charging British firms a £1,000-a-year levy would “be helpful to British workers who feel they are overlooked” in favour of migrants.
The story, which was published by The Guardian, also warned that restrictions would be applied to the recruitment of EU workers after Brexit.
The Guardian reported Goodwill said: “In April this year we are … bringing in the immigration skills charge for non-EEA skilled workers. If you want to recruit an Indian computer programmer on a four-year contract on top of the existing visa charges and the resident labour market test there will be a fee of £1,000 per year.
“So for a four-year contract that employer will need to pay a £4,000 immigration skills charge. That is something that currently applies to non-EU and it has been suggested to us that could be applied to EU.”
Construction relies on overseas workers
For the construction sector this would be a significant blow. It is estimated around 12 per cent of the 2.1 million construction workers in the UK come from abroad, predominately the EU. With a skills shortage already fully entrenched it is difficult to see how a levy would not negatively impact the industry.
The construction sector is already facing the introduction of a levy on apprentices. This is due to be applied this year and will help train more than three million new apprentices before 2020—a target set by the government.
Goodwill urged the peers to “seriously consider” the charge for skills EU workers within their inquiry report.
“It would be helpful to the British economy and to British workers who feel they are overlooked because of other people coming into the country getting jobs they would themselves like to get,” he said.
Number 10 denies levy
A spokesperson for the prime minister tried to distance Number 10 from the announcement following backlash from the business sector, stating this was not on the government’s agenda. Furthermore, the spokesperson suggested Goodwill’s comments had been “misinterpreted” and said he had simply been discussing the skills levy for non-EU migrants coming into force in April.