Responding to the latest official immigration statistics, showing that net long-term international migration fell to 230,000 in the year to June 2017, down 106,000 from the recent peak of 336,000, Seamus Nevin, Head of Policy Research, said:
“Immigration is a vote of confidence in a country’s future prospects. Disappointingly, today’s ONS figures show that the UK is facing a lose-lose situation of fewer EU migrants coming here as well as EU citizens leaving since last year’s vote to leave the European Union.
“While reducing the number of EU citizens coming here was an aim for some who voted to leave, all sides in the referendum debate were clear that they wanted all EU citizens already living here to be able to stay. It is therefore bitterly disappointing that now 17 months on, EU citizens’ right to remain in the UK has still not been guaranteed. Indeed, IoD members are reporting significant numbers of vital EU staff quitting so we hope that agreement can be reached in the negotiations next month to bring an end to this fear and uncertainty once and for all. Bosses need to be able to get back to business and not have to worry about the future of their EU staff, and staff still need meaningful reassurance not just words.
“The ONS stats also show the number of people moving to the UK to take up a ‘definite job’ has remained stable, but fewer people are coming to the UK ‘looking for work’. This will worry small businesses who don’t have the resources to navigate the Home Office’s exceptionally bureaucratic visa application system and so rely on recruiting from the pool of people already in the UK. If small firms cannot find the people to fill the jobs they are creating, then local economies will suffer.
“This should be a clear warning to the Government of the need to reform our visa system and ensure that employers of all types are able to employ the people they need for our economy to prosper after Brexit.”