a company with 50 or more staff hiring one migrant would face a rise from £200 ($397) to £1,170 (with the British pound at twice the value of the U.S. Dollar)
CBI says new immigration fees may hit economy
Financial Times (London)
By Jimmy Burns
Published: January 31 2008 02:40 | Last updated: January 31 2008 02:40
A huge rise in immigration fees risks deterring employers from hiring skilled workers capable of contributing positively to the economy, the CBI employers’ body warned on Wednesday night.
Plans published by the Home Office on Wednesday propose a considerable increase in the fees businesses pay for workers’ visas under the new PBS points based migration system, with smaller businesses seeing fees rise by as much as 500 per cent.
Liam Byrne, immigration minister, justified the rises, saying the government’s aim was to help to ensure only workers with the skills to benefit the economy came to the UK.
Under the blueprint, a company with 50 or more staff hiring one migrant would face a rise from £200 ($397) to £1,170 with the increase being reduced as more skilled migrants were hired.
“We welcome the contribution that legal migrants make to the economy and cultural life in the UK and we have ensured that these fees ... are at levels that will not damage our international competitiveness,” said Mr Byrne. “We are confident that we are not out of line with other countries’ prices and that the people we want to come here will not be deterred from doing so.”
However, John Cridland, CBI deputy director-general, warned that ministers had structured the new levels of fees in a way that would make hiring cost effective the more people were employed, so that smaller companies would take more of a hit.
“By seeking to recover far more from the cost of processing the application, the government risks putting up a barrier to firms hiring people with the skills they need to grow and create jobs for the whole economy,” Mr Cridland said. “The CBI has supported the PBS as a flexible way of managing migration. But it will need to be fair and seen to work in practice. Cost is one concern, as is ensuring the new register of sponsors is user friendly and that companies can more easily transfer existing staff from abroad on a short-term basis.”
The fees are part of what the government describes as a “challenging” programme of reform to the immigration system over the next year. It includes on-the-spot fines for businesses that do not make the right checks on migrant workers, the introduction of a single border force with police-like powers, and compulsory ID cards for foreign nationals who want to stay in the UK.
Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2008
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