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Adopt business-friendly immigration post-Brexit, government told

Oscar Williams-Grut
·Senior City Correspondent, Yahoo Finance UK
COLCHESTER, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 02: Britain's Home Secretary Priti Patel reacts during a campaign rally event on December 2, 2019 in Colchester, England. (Photo by Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Business groups wrote an open letter to home secretary Priti Patel on Friday calling for a 'fair and sustainable immigration' system. Photo: Hannah McKay - WPA Pool/Getty Images

UK industry has united to urge the government to create a business-friendly post-Brexit immigration system.

Britain’s five largest business lobbies and over 30 business groups have signed a letter sent to Home Secretary Priti Patel calling for the creation of a “fair and sustainable immigration” system.

Signatories of the letter include the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Institute of Directors (IoD), the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), and industry groups covering everything from motorsports to Scotch whisky.

The alliance of industry, which collectively represents millions of UK employees, offered to help the government craft a new immigration system after Britain leaves the EU.

“Business understands that the immigration system must change in order to re-build public confidence,” the letter said.

“Insight from enterprise can help build a points-based model that provides greater control, whilst providing access to the labour and skills needed to support the economy. And this can go hand in hand with a continued determination to invest in training home grown talent.”

READ MORE: Voters change their minds ‘easily and rapidly’ over immigration

The government has asked the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to draw up proposals for a new immigration system to be introduced next year. The independent body is due to report its findings at the end of this month. The MAC is working on a points-based immigration system, modelled on Australia, and is considering a minimum salary threshold for people looking to move to the UK.

Two years ago, the MAC recommended a minimum earnings threshold of £30,000 but business groups warned Thursday this could exacerbate skills shortages. Business groups said a minimum salary threshold could work but should be set closer to £20,000 and tied to a comparison of how much others in similar jobs earn.

“This would protect wages and ensure that shortages in jobs such as technicians, carpenters, translators, and care-home managers can be addressed,” the letter said.

Earlier this week, the Times reported that Boris Johnson is planning to scrap the £30,000 threshold. This has “increased optimism” among businesses, the letter said.

READ MORE: Top economist warns of UK crisis 'bigger than worst-case Brexit'

The business groups backed a points-based system, called for more temporary visas to support industry, and urged reform of the sponsorship process.

“The economy needs a simple, streamlined and affordable system that meets business’ needs of all sizes, sectors and across all UK regions and nations,” the groups wrote.

“We look forward to working with the new government to inform the detailed design of a new immigration system in a way that commands public confidence and supports the UK’s global ambitions.”

A spokesperson for the Home Office said: “We will deliver on the people’s priorities by introducing a points-based immigration system, attracting the brightest and best talent from around the world while cutting low-skilled immigration and bringing overall numbers down.

“We will continue to speak with businesses of all sizes as the system is designed and rolled out.”