Belfast Telegraph

£30,000 for migrant workers rule 'won't work in Northern Ireland'


By Margaret Canning

Key industries including agriculture, healthcare and housebuilding could lose tens of thousands of potential workers if a proposed £30,000 threshold for migrant workers' pay is adopted after Brexit, it's been claimed.

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Business group the CBI in Northern Ireland today said a £30,000 wage threshold proposed by the Migration Advisory Committee would not work in Northern Ireland, where 71% of people earn less than that figure.

And it said that such a restriction on UK entry of migrant workers could strip industries dependent on workers from overseas - including agriculture, healthcare and housebuilding - of crucial manpower.

The CBI said that just under 40% of staff in food and drink manufacturing are from EU countries. It publishes a report on the policy's potential impact in Northern Ireland today.

Angela McGowan, CBI Northern Ireland director, said: “We know that Northern Irish businesses are creating jobs, but many are already struggling to fill vacancies and are suffering from a growing skills shortage.

“Continued access to overseas workers after Brexit is vital to drive growth, innovation and prosperity in Northern Ireland.

“The Government’s current proposals risk causing significant harm at a time of uncertainty for business.”

She said that a proposal for a one-year limit for those earning less than £30,000 would result in companies hiring someone new each year, “needlessly increasing costs and discouraging migrants from integrating into communities”.

Ms McGowan added: “Leaving the EU should be an opportunity to develop an independent immigration policy, that works for business by being both open to allow our economy to grow and controlled to restore public confidence.”

Belfast Telegraph