Why was a new “growth visa” being considered. Presumably even towards the end of last year the UK Government realised that the Scale-Up visa was a failure. Why was the “Growth visa” Scale-Up visa a failure? Probably employers were not convinced that it was worth it applying. Employers still need to apply for a sponsor licence. After six months the employee can work for any employer, which is perhaps a concern for certain employers.
UK government ministers, late last year, were reportedly considering growth visa proposals put forward by Britain’s shortest ever serving Prime Minister, Liz Truss. The idea emerged amid a cross-government drive by the former PM, with the idea that the growth visa would enable employers to bring in skilled workers in short supply to boost the UK’s stuttering economy.
However, under Truss, the proposed visa was the cause of a bust-up between the former PM and Home Secretary, Suella Braverman who initially quit the role only to return under newly appointed Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.
Despite Braverman’s resistance, it’s understood that the government is giving serious consideration to introducing the so-called growth visa. According to a report published by The Telegraph ‘the visa is still under discussion’. However, officials at Downing Street deny that the potential visa has been discussed since Sunak became PM.
Growth visa not mentioned in Autumn Statement
It’s currently unclear what the government’s position is on the proposed growth visa. Nothing much seems to have happened in the last few months. That’s despite claims that launching the visa could add billions of pounds to UK plc and help close the black hole in public finances.
Like many of his Tory Prime Minister predecessors, Sunak has pledged to cut net migration numbers, but has backed UK immigration schemes to attract the world’s most highly skilled migrants and entrepreneurs.
At the recent Tory conference, Ms Braverman hinted that she wants to revive David Cameron’s past pledge to reduce net migration to less than 100,000 a year.
It’s expected that the next round of migration figures to be released will show that levels have reached a record high, despite Britain’s departure from the EU.
Recently, the boss of retail giant Next urged the government to allow more migrants in.
Not the Brexit I wanted
Tory peer and prominent backer of Brexit, Lord Simon Wolfson, told the BBC: “This is not the Brexit that I wanted as the immigration clampdown has compounded worker shortages. We have got people queuing up to come to this country to pick crops that are rotting in fields, to work in warehouses that otherwise wouldn’t be operable, and we’re not letting them in.”
“We have to take a different approach to economically productive migration. In respect of immigration, it’s definitely not the Brexit that I wanted, or indeed, many of people who voted Brexit wanted,” Lord Wolfson added.
He went on to suggest that the government could consider introducing a 10% tax on UK employers who want to recruit foreign workers, saying that this would ‘encourage businesses to think about hiring within the UK first’.
Lord Wolfson said: “It would automatically mean that businesses never bought someone into the company from outside if they could find someone in the UK. But if they genuinely can't, they'll pay the premium.”
Since Brexit and COVID in particular, a whole host of sectors have been hit by significant labour shortages, including healthcare, hospitality and logistics. Most of these shortages can be attributed to a lack of foreign workers in the aftermath of Britain quitting the EU.
Lord Wolfson said: “The government needs to decide if it wants post-Brexit Britain to be ‘fortress Britain’, which would prevent much-needed foreign workers from entering the country and damaging economic growth as a result.”
“We have to remember that what post-Brexit Britain looks like, is not the preserve of those people that voted Brexit, it’s for all of us to decide,” Lord Wolfson added.
Taking back control
The government maintains that it has delivered on its promise to ‘take back control of the UK immigration system’.
A spokesperson for the government said: “Unemployment is at record lows and it’s vital we continue to bring in excellent key workers the UK needs, including thousands of NHS doctors and nurses through the Health and Care Visa and the Seasonal Workers scheme which brings in the workforce our farmers and growers need.”