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UK panel says limit on Indian, non-EU workers could affect recovery

Several business and trade lobbies have criticised the Tier 2 cap with a high salary criteria that prevents companies from recruiting people with special skills that are not available in Britain or the European Union. It has affected several Indian and other professionals.

world Updated: Jan 09, 2016 18:19 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
The Home Affairs Select Committee of parliament, headed by former labour minister Keith Vaz, said in its latest report the cap on Indian and other non-EU workers allowed to work in Britain was not “fit” and may even be “counter-productive”.
The Home Affairs Select Committee of parliament, headed by former labour minister Keith Vaz, said in its latest report the cap on Indian and other non-EU workers allowed to work in Britain was not “fit” and may even be “counter-productive”.(Getty Images)

The influential Home Affairs Select Committee of parliament has said the annual limit of 20,700 placed on Indian and other non-EU workers allowed to work in Britain could harm the country’s recovery at a time when the economy is growing.

Several business and trade lobbies have criticised the Tier 2 cap with a high salary criteria that prevents companies from recruiting people with special skills that are not available in Britain or the European Union. It has affected several Indian and other professionals.

Until mid-2015, the cap introduced in April 2011 was not reached, but recruitments peaked as the British economy showed signs of recovery last year. This created a panic of sorts since health officials were unable to recruit much-needed nurses from India and other countries.

To remedy the situation, the David Cameron government in October allowed nurses to be included in the “shortage occupation list”, which is not subject to the cap. The committee cited this as another example of how the cap is not working.

The committee said in its latest report the cap was not “fit” and may even be “counter-productive”. It is also not contributing to the government’s aim of reducing net migration to “tens of thousands” instead of the current hundreds of thousands.

Keith Vaz, chairman of the committee, said: “The latest net migration figures show a third of a million people entered the UK last year, roughly the size of Cardiff, making the Tier 2 cap of 20,700 minimal in comparison. Yet it blocks the recruitment of vitally needed skills required by individual employers and the economy as a whole.”

He added: “Salary, the main measure used in implementing the cap, is a crude tool for getting the skills we need…Employers need the right of appeal to challenge a system that is slow, unimaginative and cumbersome.”

The inclusion of nurses in the shortage occupation list will enable 1,200 nurses from India, who faced the prospect of leaving Britain after working for six years, to stay since professions included in the list are not subject to restrictions.