The head of a British business lobby group warned that a lack of workers had contributed to ‘anti-growth situations’ in the UK.
Shevaun haviland, the director-general of British Chambers of Commerce said in an article that the immigration reforms announced last week by the government — including raising the salary thresholds for skilled worker visas — would worsen labour shortages.
Haviland, speaking ahead of the BCC business council’s second meeting, said that the package would “make the job market tighter and reduce the number coming”.
Businesses from industries such as hospitality and manufacturing expressed alarm after James Cleverly, the home secretary announced reforms that would make it more difficult for employers to hire foreign staff and prohibit care workers from bringing family members to the UK.
Haviland said that executives from the BCC’s Business Council would “no-doubt” discuss immigration during the meeting. Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride, and Labour’s shadow pension minister, Liz Kendall, will also be attending.
The BCC has a traditional structure where 53 chambers of commerce, each with its own members, contribute to local and national policymaking.
The creation a special counselor for a large group of companies was widely perceived as an attempt by the CBI business lobby to capitalize on the turmoil caused by allegations of sexual misconduct and other misconduct.
Haviland stated that the BCC was considering launching a national scheme even before the CBI crisis.
She said: “Then, the CBI was involved and several businesses approached us asking for help. We didn’t turn them away.” “That’s what the market is.”
claims that its finances have become “stable” following heavy cost-cutting.
The BCC is still a long way from reaching its goal of 25 members for its business council, but it has already started holding meetings with those who have joined. These include Aviva, BP Heathrow Airport, Lloyds Banking Group, and NatWest.
Three-quarters (75%) of BCC members said that they were struggling to hire staff, and this was affecting their business.
Haviland stated that “a lack of people” as well as “a lack of investment” were the main reasons for Britain’s slow economic growth.
“Those two things go together of course because if your thinking about buying an expansion or a new kit, but can’t get the right people to help you out then you won’t do it.
The number one issue that they bring up is the lack of an employee base that can help our businesses grow. It’s a situation that is anti-growth.
Haviland asked the government in May to expand the “shortage occupational list”. This allows a 20% reduction in the threshold salary for visas when there is a shortage of staff in certain sectors.
What businesses want to know is: . . Haviland said that the UK workforce should have a plan.
“This will ensure that everyone in the UK, who wants to work, can work. . . “If there are gaps, [having] a system of immigration that is suitable for our economy will be a good thing.”
The government recently unveiled measures aimed at re-engaging economically inactive individuals into the workforce, with a goal of filling about 1mn job vacancies. The Office for Budget Responsibility, a watchdog of government spending, has estimated that only 200,000 people would be encouraged to return to work by 2028.
The current system is clearly not working. Haviland said that these changes won’t put another million people to work.
She welcomed the tax breaks for businesses announced by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt last month in his Autumn Statement, but warned: “It’s still going to be a difficult few years.”