FSB predicts tough times head for small firms under immigration proposals

Mike Cherry, National Chairman of the FSB

Proposals put forward by the government for controlling immigration could end up causing a real headache for small firms and the self-employed, says the FSB.

The organisations says seven in ten small employers rely on mid or low-skilled staff, so a £30,000 salary threshold for those coming to the UK could severely restrict access to the right skills in many sectors: construction, retail and care. Says FSB National Chairman Mike Cherry: “You don’t want a scenario where you inadvertently shut off access to all-important mid-skilled staff.

“The Home Secretary must be in listening mode in the months ahead. Getting this threshold wrong will cause serious disruption to the economy. With the employment rate at a record-high, small firms are already struggling to access the skills they need.

“It’s also important to note that we’re only 100 days from 29 March and a deal is yet to be agreed. We need clearer guidance on what a no deal scenario will mean for small employers.

“A brand-new migration system will mean serious paperwork for small employers. Many will find this a real challenge. 95% have never used our current points-based system and the majority recruited their EU staff when they were already in the UK. A transitional arrangement for low-skilled workers is a step in the right direction, one which should help protect against a cliff-edge moment further down the line.

“Then there’s the costs to consider. Any new sponsorship requirements – particularly an immigration surcharge – for employers bringing in staff from the EU would put a real strain on small firms and stifle their expansion. If we’re not careful, this migration blueprint will cost small firms very dearly indeed.”