New UK Immigration policy – how will we all cope?

Date: 28th Friday, February, 2020

January 31st, 2020 came and went and the dust is slowly settling.  The UK is out of the EU and many businesses that rely on temporary or seasonal workers have expressed concern about how they are going to sustain their staffing supply in the wake of a new and potentially restrictive immigration policy.  Some industries have relied heavily on eastern European workers to undertake jobs that some may argue could not be filled by UK citizens due to the unattractive wages on offer.  Agriculture, meat packing, hospitality, warehousing and care work are some of the sectors that are heavily reliant on EU labour and not surprisingly the most vocal.  Other occupations such as HGV driving, which is already under stress due to a diminishing pool of qualified people, could also be impacted further if the new rules and earnings cap being bandied about in the press become law.  Either way, we are likely to experience a rebalance of labour in the future which will partly focus on stimulating home-grown talent.  At The Best Connection, the work undertaken to encourage EU nationals to enrol on the EU Settlement Scheme has borne fruit with the vast majority of people committing to stay and continue working in the UK.  With around 13% of all HGV drivers coming from the EU, this represents a critical group of individuals, so we can for the moment, breathe a sigh of relief.  Business can continue in relative normality – but the bigger picture remains the same.  Replacing a percentage of these people with resident Brits would be an enormous undertaking and challenge given the low-unemployment backdrop.  However, where there’s a will – oh, and a large enough cash incentive – there is a way.  Wages would most certainly have to increase and be paid for by someone.  This cost would be passed on to businesses and ultimately customers would pay more for goods.  Some may find this concept abhorrent, others totally acceptable.   As an upside, drivers, for example, would receive higher pay, enjoy a better standard of living and in turn the occupation would, over time, become a more attractive career to pursue.  The same principle applies to our coffee shops, fruit fields and so on.  One thing is for certain, the UK economy will need to find temporary labour from somewhere to keep the wheels of industry moving and the coffee in our cups frothing, however, the question will be – at what cost?

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