Sadiq Khan: plans to cut migration will trigger London recruitment crisis | Immigration and asylum #Sadiq #Khan #plans #cut #migration #trigger #London #recruitment #crisis #Immigration #asylum

Sadiq Khan has warned that ministers’ plans to cut legal migration will lead to a “full blown recruitment crisis” in London, with vacancies in hospitality alone still higher than they were pre-pandemic.

Net migration boosted the UK population by 672,000 in the year ending June 2023, with about half of the country’s foreign-born population (48%) living in either London or the south-east of England.

Last week, the government announced measures to bring the net migration figures numbers down through an increase in the “general” salary threshold that needs to be met for those seeking long-term work visas and for partners of British nationals or settled people who wish to emigrate to the UK. Both thresholds will increase to £38,700 from £26,200.

The government is also going to stop care workers bringing dependants to the UK and increase the immigration health surcharge, which allows people to access the NHS, by 66% – from £624 to £1,035 a year per migrant.

Ministers are yet to publish an assessment of the economic impact on the British economy, but, according to an analysis by the Greater London Authority, key sectors of the London economy worth billions to the exchequer could be left heavily understaffed.

Of the 1 million people working in hospitality, healthcare, arts and construction in the capital, about 46% are non-UK nationals, according to the assessment, and nearly half a million of them are expected to be affected by the changes.

All of them will be facing higher health fees unless they already secured indefinite leave to remain (ILR). As many non-nationals earn far less than the revised skilled worker threshold of £38,700, they risk losing the right to remain in the UK.

Khan, who has been London mayor since 2016, described the policies as “misguided” with the failure to train up the domestic workforce likely to leave many London businesses without the staff they need in the years to come.

He said: “One of the reasons that London is the greatest city in the world is the contribution of successive generations of immigrants working side by side with trained Brits. Migrants are absolutely integral to our economy and public services, whether running our care homes and our bars and restaurants, or helping power our world-leading arts and creative sector.

“It is vital that more is done to train up British workers with the right skills. But the government needs to realise that these latest immigration policies will lead to a full-blown recruitment crisis. This will have severe consequences for public services and the economy, not just here in London but across the UK.”

More than half (58%) of London’s hospitality workforce are non-UK citizens, the analysis suggests.

Raising the salary threshold, increasing the health surcharge that migrants must pay for access to the NHS, and making it difficult for UK nationals to bring their non-UK spouses to the country is likely to affect at least 250,00 hospitality workers in London, making it more difficult to fill chef and restaurant staff positions, it is claimed.

As of September, there were already 24,185 new online job postings in the sector for the top 10 roles in hospitality, compared with 15,490 in January 2019.

There are said to be almost 40,000 non-UK nationals working in London’s arts, recreation and entertainment sector – almost 40% of the sector workforce.

Many of those earn much below the £38,700 revised threshold although precise numbers are not yet available. The median salary for this sector stands at just under £24,000. As of September, there were 12,925 online job postings for the top 10 roles in the creative industries in the capital.

Non-UK workers are said to account for more than two out of five jobs in health and social care. Care workers and senior care workers have been exempted from the salary threshold increase but other changes are expected to affect about 200,000 people in that sector in London.

Those workers are expected to be particularly affected by the ban on care workers bringing dependants into the UK. The number of online postings for jobs in key health and social care roles remains high at 11,334, close to 2018 levels.

About 40% of employees in the construction industry are also non-UK nationals, and the proposed changes to the salary thresholds for visas are estimated to have an impact on approximately 60,000 workers. There were 6,246 online job ads in September for the top 10 roles in construction after a recent drop off in the number of EU nationals in the sector.

The Home Office said the government’s analysis of the economic impact of its new policies would be made public but that immigration should not be seen as alternative for employers to improving pay and conditions for the resident workforce.

A spokesperson said: “We continue to face unprecedented levels of immigration since the pandemic, which is why the prime minister and home secretary have announced a plan to slash migration levels, curb abuse of the system and deliver the biggest ever reduction in net migration.

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