UK should lower migrant pay threshold after Brexit, say advisers

The UK should slash the main salary threshold for workers coming to the Britain with a job offer to £25,600 per year after Brexit, the government’s immigration advisers have recommended.

The Migration Advisory Committee said in a report published on Tuesday that the lower salary threshold balanced demands from businesses for continued access to a large labour pool after the UK leaves the EU, while ensuring that foreign workers were not recruited solely because they were cheaper than their British counterparts. 

The current threshold is £30,000 a year, but it applies only to people from outside the European Economic Area — the European Union plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. EEA citizens are free to move to the UK and take up jobs without restrictions but this will change after the post-Brexit transition period at the end of this year.

The MAC was tasked with drawing up new salary thresholds for migrants and devising a points-based immigration system, based on that used in Australia, that will be in place once freedom of movement ends for EEA citizens. It recommended that Britain should allow talented individuals to register interest in moving to the UK and stage a monthly draw that would determine who would be allowed to enter the country. 

Alan Manning, chair of the committee, said the committee’s recommendations would see cuts to net migration but would also reduce UK population growth and gross domestic product.

He added that there would also be “very small increases” in GDP per capita and productivity and slightly reduced demand on the National Health Service and social housing, but “slightly increased pressure” on the social care sector, which is highly reliant on low-cost labour from mainland Europe. 

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“No perfect system exists and there are unavoidable, difficult trade-offs,” Professor Manning said. “The largest impacts will be in low-wage sectors and the government needs to be clear about its plans for lower-skilled work migration.” 

There are different minimum salary requirements for certain highly paid professions and the committee also recommended that their salary threshold should be set at the 25th percentile so that only the top quarter of workers would qualify.



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