UK businesses ‘totally unprepared’ for lower immigration

UK businesses are ‘totally unprepared’ for the lower levels of immigration expected as a result of the nation’s decision to leave the European Union, according to a report.

A survey by the Resolution Foundation found that nearly half of firms that employ workers from the EU are not prepared for a new immigration system.

47 per cent of employers in the study, which was conducted by ComRes, have “totally unrealistic” expectations of what a new regime might look like.

17 per cent expect no change to the current system of freedom of movement for EU nationals, while 30 per cent expect to see that system maintained for those with a job offer.

More immediately, 46 per cent of employers expect no change in the number of EU nationals in the workforce in the next 12 months, while 24 per cent expect an increase.

Yet these expectations are in contrast with the priorities of prime minister Theresa May, who has pledged to cut net migration down to the tens of thousands.

“As the fallout from last week’s election rumbles on, the new government will need to be making fast preparations for Brexit negotiations that start in just seven days’ time,” said Torsten Bell, director of the Resolution Foundation, commenting on the findings.

“But it’s not just government that needs to step up preparation for Brexit.

“Many British firms are totally unprepared for this change, particularly when it comes to migration. Ministers have compounded this uncertainty by choosing not to answer questions over what a post-Brexit immigration regime might be.

“Whatever people’s views on Brexit, the journey not just the destination matter hugely to growth, jobs and living standards. Now is the time for both firms and government to focus on how we navigate that journey and the changes to our labour market it brings.”

For more from the survey, see the Resolution Foundation’s website.

Photo © Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0). Cropped.