The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) yesterday released a comprehensive 182-page review of Tier 2 visa salary thresholds.
Tier 2 mainly consists of non-EU work migration.
The MAC was commissioned in June to carry out the review, and it will report in two stages – firstly, yesterday’s early advice on Tier 2 salary thresholds, and secondly, a wider review which will be delivered to government at the end of the year.
The MAC urged the government to be cautious over any early decision to raise the minimum salary requirements for skilled migrant workers, pending the completion of the wider review.
Yesterday’s review stated: “Our focus in this report is on analysis rather than recommendations. We examine the evidence concerning the possibility that migrants undercut British residents. We set out the impact on the number of migrants excluded as the pay thresholds are raised (assuming firms do not raise their pay offer). We urge caution over thresholds because such decisions interact with the second tranche of our work, particularly the skills levy. In any event a modest rise in the minimum thresholds would have minimal impact on Tier 2 (General) because currently the prioritisation system with the limit is yielding required pay above £30,000 (except for occupations within the shortage occupation list which are prioritised first). Further, the tight timetable means we have had insufficient time to fully consider the extensive evidence on this topic and, at this stage, cannot fully assess the impact of raising pay thresholds on particular companies and organisations.”
According to a MAC press release, the review found little evidence to suggest there is widespread undercutting of UK resident workers by Tier 2 migrants occurring under the current salary thresholds, though this finding is subject to further work being undertaken as part of the wider review.”
Chair of the MAC, Professor Sir David Metcalf CBE, said: “The MAC’s focus in this report is on analysis rather than recommendations. We have examined the evidence concerning the possibility that migrants undercut British residents and we set out the possible reduction in skilled migrant inflows if the pay thresholds were raised from current levels.”
“We urge the government to be cautious in making any significant changes to the salary thresholds at this stage because they should not be considered in isolation. Salary thresholds are closely linked with other issues the government has asked the MAC to consider in its wider review, including proposals for an immigration skills charge on migrant workers.”
“Our recommendations on the Tier 2 route will be published after we have examined in full the extensive evidence of the impact of raising pay thresholds on particular companies and organisations.”
According to BBC News, the MAC said raising Tier 2 salary thresholds could lead to “bottlenecks constraining the growth of individual firms,” and warned it could result in “serious problems in particular sectors, including the education and health sectors”.
BBC News said that the MAC review found this is “to some extent already the case”.
The review stated: “Overall, a number of firms said that increases in thresholds could lead to increases in the cost of their services, prevent expansion of business and thus possibly cause certain business areas to grow elsewhere in the world at the expense of the UK.”