How new immigration regulations will impact Coventry & Warwickshire

A local immigration lawyer has said the new regulations could have a severe impact on the region’s agricultural, social care and hospitality industries.

A leading immigration lawyer in Coventry believes the government may be forced to back down on its tough new immigration regulations – but says businesses cannot wait for that to happen.

A new points-based immigration system – to be introduced from January 2021 – is intended to end dependence on “cheap labour from Europe”.

The Home Office estimates 70% of EU workers currently in the UK would not meet the requirements if applying under the new system.

Critics have said this post-Brexit immigration system could have a severe impact locally on the region’s agricultural, social care and hospitality industries.

Ministers claim the system will also make it easier for higher-skilled workers to get UK visas.

Some of the changes announced on Wednesday will come into force as early as October but Matthew Davies, partner and head of business immigration law at leading Midlands law firm Wright Hassall, believes affected businesses have to take action immediately. 

Davies has warned that certain industries – which are strong in Coventry and Warwickshire – will struggle with the changes and that will impact the regional economy.

He said: “Farming, the care sector and food and hospitality – the sectors most dependent on low-skilled EU labour – will take the brunt of this decision. 

“The Government says that this is an overdue re-balancing that the public wants to end the ‘distortion’ of labour supply, but employers in these sectors simply can’t afford it.

“But there is good news for businesses – the re-structuring of the Points Based System for skilled migration will involve abandoning the cap on numbers, scrapping the Resident Labour Market test, dropping the base salary thresholds by thousands of pounds and lowering the minimum skill level. 

“The difference now is that there will be less incentive, not more, for employers to invest in skills training for home-grown talent, and downward pressure on wages at the mid-level roles will increase, which counters what the Government says it is trying to achieve.

“The 10-year pre-Brexit commitment to reduce net migration will translate into a post-Brexit economy with more economic migration than ever, which may be masked for a while by the pinch-point crisis in the three sectors that rely most on low-skilled labour. 

“It will be no surprise if, whatever the Government says now, it relents a few months down the line and makes special provision for the care, food and hospitality sectors. 

“As the loss of EU co-operation and underfunding undermine the security of borders now ‘under our control’, the ultimate irony of Brexit will take hold: more immigration than the UK has ever known.”

But Home Secretary Priti Patel on Wednesday said the new system will force employers to “move away” from relying on “cheap labour” from Europe and instead invest in retaining staff and developing automation technology.

She added that businesses could also recruit from among eight million “economically inactive” potential workers in the UK.