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Wednesday, September 19, 2018
In July 2017, the Home Secretary (at that time, Amber Rudd) commissioned a report from the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to analyse current patterns of European Economic Area (EEA) migration to the UK and the impact it has on the economy and wider society. Publishing their findings earlier today, under a new Home Secretary, Sajid Javid, the MAC have released their final report, with some interesting conclusions being reached.
In a similar line to Theresa May’s Panorama interview last night the MAC report states that EU workers should not get any special access to the UK after Brexit. The report also calls on the Government to end the current cap on highly-skilled workers that are granted visas to the UK each year, which is currently set at 20,700, and widen the range of jobs permitted under this scheme. From a societal perspective, the report concludes that there is no evidence that increased EU migration has increased crime or added additional strain on the NHS.
However, the MAC report may come into some criticism from certain industries and businesses for dismissing the need for low-skilled labour from the EU and beyond after Brexit. This would effectively be the most significant change to UK migration and labour policy since the War, basically ending low-skilled migration to the UK.
The full report can be found on the Government’s website, but to summarise, the report’s key recommendations are:
Impact on Labour and Skills
The report assesses the impact on employment and wages, concluding that migration has little or no impact on overall employment and unemployment in the UK. In terms of wages, the report also suggests that migration is not a major factor in wage rates.
When looking at the overall impact on productivity and on education and training, overall the report points toward migration having a positive impact on productivity and there is no evidence that migration has had a negative impact on the training of the UK workforce. There is some evidence however that skilled migrants in fact have a positive impact on the quantity of training available in the UK, but the report [broadly] concludes that the overall impact on the quality of training provided is unknown.
Impact on House Prices
The report looks at the impact of migration on consumer and house prices, questioning whether migration may have affected prices by altering the supply and demand balance of goods and housing. The analysis suggests migration has increased house prices, but emphasises that this cannot be seen in isolation from other market factors. The evidence points towards a higher impact of migration in areas with more restrictive planning policies, making it harder for the housing stock to increase in line with demand.
MAC Policy Recommendations
The recommendations to Government range from broad to very detailed, but some of the key points raised are concerning free movement. Some outcomes that may be relevant for BESA members include:
Jargon buster: If we have a no-deal Brexit, EU citizens will need a visa like the rest of the world.
Jargon buster: After Brexit teachers, doctors, IT professionals and highly skilled migrants will get a visa before others.
Jargon buster: Nothing is going to change on regional immigration policy for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Despite nobody really being able to predict what Brexit will mean for the UK and for the construction industry, it is fair to conclude that the priority for the Government, in negotiations with the EU, are industries that depend on their international supply chain. In terms of goods and services, with parts and components crossing numerous borders, industries such as finance, aerospace and automotive are taking priority.
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