The UK government’s plan to cap immigration from outside the EU will come under fire from businesses this week, who will warn it could hamper economic growth.
The British Chambers of Commerce will tell MPs that it will prevent companies from bringing in specialist and highly skilled employees.
Dr Adam Marshall, director of policy at the BCC, said: “Firms really need to be able to employ the right people to drive the recovery and we can’t be held back by arbitrary limits.”
Marshall, who will appear before the home affairs select committee on Tuesday, said member businesses he had spoken to “recognise that there is a strong desire to limit immigration – but there is also a strong need to ensure competitiveness”.
The immigration minister, Damian Green, who will also appear before the committee, said: “We recognise the importance of attracting the brightest and the best to ensure strong economic growth, but unlimited immigration places unacceptable pressure on public services.”
The previous government introduced a points-based system that prevents unskilled workers coming to Britain from outside the EU unless they work in an area identified as having shortages.
Further limits – a temporary cap is already in place, and the Home Office is consulting on how to make it permanent – will have to target those shortage areas, high-skilled immigration or other, more controversial, groups such as non-EU citizens married to British people.
Sarah Mulley, a senior research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research, said highly skilled workers were “not the group that the public are concerned about”, and there was a risk of serious harm to the economy.
“The cap could also have real consequences for the public finances if it significantly reduces the number of highly paid migrants who pay a large amount in tax.” GNS