Immigration Bill Committee

Written evidence submitted by the Office of the City Remembrancer, City of London Corporation (IB 47)

IMMIGRATION BILL 2015/16

1. The City of London Corporation supports the Government’s aim of retaining and strengthening the United Kingdom's economic base by boosting domestic employment and strengthening trade. The desire to restrict and reduce the numbers of migrants entering the UK, in response to broader public worries about the impact on jobs and communities, is recognised by the UK's financial and business services sector.

2. There are serious concerns regarding the operation of the Tier 2 General system and particularly over the level of the current cap. These views have been expressed by representatives of leading City firms and trade associations including through a working group on migration issues brought together by the City Corporation.

3. It is important to stress that the motivation of such companies is not to import skills in order to drive down salaries. They are aware that they operate in a global market for talented people, who are capable of applying their skills in a number of centres. Encouraging them to do so in the UK (in areas including IT, life sciences and specialist engineering as well as financial and professional services) tends to create and anchor here foreign businesses which in turn employ UK-based workers, while generating taxes, export revenue and corporate earnings.

Clause 46: Immigration Skills Charge

4. An Immigration Skills Charge as envisaged in Clause 46 of the Bill has the potential to act as a deterrent to investment. Together with the healthcare charge, these additional charges may be perceived as another tax on investing in the UK that is not payable in other markets. Although there is little detail on it available at the moment, if applied universally it would prove more punitive to smaller businesses.

5. Many City stakeholders already provide extensive training and professional development programmes for UK resident workers. Major City businesses, including investment banks, insurers, lawyers and accountants, are significant contributors of funding, supplementary resources and employee time and goodwill towards regeneration, training and social development programmes in disadvantaged areas of inner London and elsewhere.

6. Before any decision is taken to impose a Skills Charge, City stakeholders believe any existing arrangements businesses have to provide skills training both within their businesses but also to the community at large need to be considered. It is also recommended that businesses subject to such a levy be assessed on their size and any businesses that fall within a sector deemed strategically important be exempt.

7. The UK is and remains a desirable location for talented people. Economic growth, comparative political stability and attractive living standards enable it to compete for the best talent, but it should not be assumed that it will always be the preferred location.

November 2015

Prepared 18th November 2015