FSB predicts tough times for small firms under immigration proposals

Mike Cherry

Proposals put forward by the government for controlling immigration could end up causing a real headache for small firms and the self-employed, says the FSB.

The organisations says seven in ten small employers rely on mid or low-skilled staff, so a £30,000 salary threshold for those coming to the UK could severely restrict access to the right skills in many sectors: construction, retail and care. Says FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry: “You don’t want a scenario where you inadvertently shut off access to all-important mid-skilled staff.

“The Home Secretary must be in listening mode in the months ahead. Getting this threshold wrong will cause serious disruption to the economy. With the employment rate at a record-high, small firms are already struggling to access the skills they need.

“It’s also important to note that we’re only 100 days from 29 March and a deal is yet to be agreed. We need clearer guidance on what a no deal scenario will mean for small employers.

“A brand-new migration system will mean serious paperwork for small employers. Many will find this a real challenge. 95% have never used our current points-based system and the majority recruited their EU staff when they were already in the UK. A transitional arrangement for low-skilled workers is a step in the right direction, one which should help protect against a cliff-edge moment further down the line.

“Then there’s the costs to consider. Any new sponsorship requirements – particularly an immigration surcharge – for employers bringing in staff from the EU would put a real strain on small firms and stifle their expansion. If we’re not careful, this migration blueprint will cost small firms very dearly indeed.”