UK immigration laws 'anti-business'

Updated: 2011-12-09 08:36

By Cecily Liu and Zhang Chunyan (China Daily)

  Print Mail Large Medium  Small 分享按钮 0

LONDON - The British government's stringent immigration rules are harming businesses in London, according to a report published by a local business group.

Of the 123 London businesses surveyed, 23 percent have found it more difficult to fill vacancies after Britain's coalition government imposed an annual limit of 20,700 non-EU workers entering the United Kingdom this April.

Immigration restrictions are also damaging businesses' export prospects, said the report published on Wednesday by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI).

It said that the 24 percent of companies that have looked outside of the EU for staff said that they did so believing a non-EU migrant would help them grow into markets beyond the EU, but policy restrictions mean many British businesses are forced to take EU workers instead.

"The best way to provide long-term, sustainable employment opportunities for British workers is by ensuring that our firms are able to grow, but our research shows that the government's reforms are already stifling the growth of some companies," said LCCI Chief Executive Colin Stanbridge.

Immigration rules also make the UK less attractive for potential foreign investors.

George Kessler, deputy chairman of Kesslers International, the oldest British point-of-purchase designer and manufacturer, said that several of his firm's partner companies are now looking to other European countries for their European office locations.

"I'm horrified by the effect the government's legislation is having on the perception of the UK, which is no longer seen as an open country to do business," Kessler said.

Britain's immigration cap is creating a shortage of workers in certain professions, for example Chinese language teachers, who are believed to be essential in helping Britain forge closer trade links with China.

"I recognize that the current visa regime may restrict the number of Chinese language teachers who are able to teach in the UK and I strongly encourage the UK government to recognize the value that Chinese migrants bring to the UK," said Mark Hendrick, a British member of parliament who also chairs the All-Party Parliamentary China Group.

"Chinese migrants to the UK are well placed to contribute to the strengthening of relations between the UK and China, particularly through the teaching of the Chinese language," Hendrick said.

British immigration policies for non-EU workers were tightened in 2008 with the introduction of a points-based system, and again in 2011 with the annual limit. Twenty-three percent of those surveyed said that they would not recruit at all if immigration difficulties prevented them from employing the best candidate.

There are also fears that a possible lowering of the limit next April will make it harder to escape a double-dip recession, according to the LCCI report.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned in November that the UK faces sliding into a double-dip recession this winter.

China Daily

(China Daily 12/09/2011 page10)