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Bosses say UK salary threshold for migrants should be cut to £20k

Edmund Heaphy
Finance and news reporter
The UK could be faced with an "acute" post-Brexit skills shortage. Photo: Getty

A coalition of business and education bodies has advised the government to lower the salary threshold for foreign workers in the UK from £30,000 to £20,000, saying it would help avoid an “acute” skills shortage.

While non-EU citizens must already earn at least £30,000 to work in the UK, proposals put forward by the Home Office could see this extended to EU citizens after Brexit.

The Home Office, which last year released an Immigration White Paper that outlines a series of post-Brexit proposals on migrant workers, is currently consulting on the changes.

In a letter, the #FullStrength coalition, which includes the British Retail Consortium, the Coalition for a Digital Economy, London First, and the Association of Labour Providers, the Home Office is advised “to keep the UK open to talent at all levels.”

“We are a broad coalition of trade, business and education bodies campaigning for a fair and managed immigration system to keep us open to the workers the UK economy needs,” the coalition, which includes six other groups, said.

In addition to the lowered salary threshold, the groups also suggest that the temporary work route available to workers should be extended to up to two years, “with workers able to switch onto other routes such as a skilled visa while in the UK.”

The employer sponsorship model should also be made less “bureaucratic”, they advise, and endorsing bodies should be able to sponsor freelancers and self-employed workers.

The groups also ask for the reintroduction of the two-year post-study visa for international students, for an extension of the youth mobility scheme to include EU citizens, and an “improved” 90-day business visitor visa.

“The latest immigration figures show that net long-term migration from the EU has continued to fall since 2016, and multiple surveys have shown that skills and labour shortages are making it harder than ever for employers in all corners of the country to fill vacancies,” the groups said in a letter.

“Industries like construction, hospitality, digital and healthcare have large skills and labour gaps that aren’t being filled, even though we are training more people.”