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UK businesses warn: We are suffering from fall in EU immigration

UK businesses warn: We are suffering from fall in EU immigration

British businesses are already suffering from a lack of workers as EU staff quit their jobs and leave the country, and continental sources of labour dry up.

Hotels and hospitality firms fear they may have to close as a result, while engineering and manufacturing companies are considering moving overseas to find the staff they need – harming British workers in the process.

Companies issued the stark warning in the British Chambers of Commerce’s response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s call for evidence.

 
Its survey of 1,600 businesses across the country found widespread concern over the potential loss of EU workers in Britain.

The BCC wants the Government to give an “unconditional guarantee” to workers from the European Economic Area – which includes the EU – “that they and their families can remain here post Brexit”.

It wants companies to keep access to new EEA workers too through any Brexit transition period “at all skills levels, without additional costs or restrictions, and these workers should be allowed to remain in the UK at the end of the transition period”.

Businesses also want a “light touch, fast and affordable” migration system to be put in place after Brexit to allow them to hire EEA workers without substantial financial or bureaucratic costs.

This should also include maintaining “the free flow of people across the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland”.

The BCC said that any future immigration set-up “should reflect the importance of low-skilled labour to UK businesses and include a flexible route for businesses to access EEA low-skilled workers on a permanent and seasonal basis”, and not just the highly skilled workers who often dominate the public debate.

Employment in the UK is currently close to a record high while unemployment is at a 42-year low, making it harder for companies to find the staff they need, even without a fall in the supply of EU workers.

The BCC’s survey of companies found 48pc are already suffering skills or labour shortages.