Federation’s response to the Migration Advisory Committee’s report on EEA migration in the UK

September 18, 2018

While the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) report on European Economic Area (EEA) migration in the UK contains a small number of positive proposals, the recommendations do not go nearly far enough to meet the needs of creative enterprises. Moreover, the report fails to recognise the significant value EEA creative workers and freelancers bring to the UK economy.

Alan Bishop, Chief Executive of the Creative Industries Federation said:

The Federation has made clear that using the UK’s current visa system for both EEA and non-EEA citizens would strangle access to vital international talent.

UK creative businesses will simply be unable to access the skilled workers they need and will face an unmanageable financial burden if the Tier 2 salary threshold is applied to EEA citizens and the immigration skills charge remains. It is also disappointing that no recommendations have been proposed on temporary movement and to ensure creative freelancers can base themselves in the UK.”

“International talent is fundamental to creativity, innovation and economic growth in the UK, and to ensuring that the UK’s creative industries remain world-leading. The creative industries are the fastest-growing sector of the UK economy and this continued success is dependent on a future immigration system which continues to provide creative businesses with the same access to EEA workers as they have currently."

The report argues that EEA citizens should have no preferential access post-Brexit and should fall under the current non-EU immigration system. The MAC makes the following recommendations regarding this system, focusing on removing restrictions on highly skilled workers:

  • Tier 1 Better evaluate how self-employed migrants use Tier 1 visas.
  • Tier 2 Retain the salary threshold and the immigration skills charge. However, remove the cap, expand the list of eligible occupations, abolish the Resident Labour Market Test, extend the system to medium-skilled workers, and review the sponsorship system.
  • Tier 5 No route should be created for low-skilled workers, however the youth mobility scheme should be extended to the EEA to allow young people to fill low-skilled roles.

In its 2017 Global Talent Report, the Federation stressed the need for government to:

  • Allow businesses to bring in EEA workers without meeting the salary threshold of £30,000. In an industry where highly skilled often does not equate with highly paid, many vital roles in the creative industries would not command this salary, resulting in an unmanageable financial burden for creative businesses and SMEs.
  • Scrap the immigration skills charge. The charge fails to recognise that international recruitment helps to develop the domestic workforce by bringing workers into contact with the best in their field.
  • Introduce a creative freelancers visa. More than a third of those working in the sector are self-employed, including freelancers. Yet there are currently few ways to access non-EEA freelancers. A ‘creative freelancers’ visa would help ensure that creative enterprises have access to the brightest and best working in the industry today.
  • Ensure visa-free travel and same day access for workers moving temporarily between the EU and UK.
  • Allow multiple entry and greater periods of time between professional engagements on short-term visas.

The report does address some of the challenges of the UK’s current non-EU immigration system. The Federation welcomes some of the changes to Tier 2 visas such as abolishing the cap, reducing bureaucracy particularly for SMEs, expanding the list of eligible occupations, extending the scheme to medium-skilled workers, and calling for a review of the sponsorship system.

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