The Immigration White Paper: What does this mean for the Creative Industries?

December 19, 2018

Government’s white paper on a future skills-based immigration system fails to meet the needs of creative enterprises and the UK economy.

Alan Bishop, Chief Executive of the Creative Industries Federation:

“The UK’s post-Brexit immigration system is of central importance to businesses, organisations and individuals up and down the country. Our ability to attract the best and brightest talent from across the world is fundamental to what makes the UK’s creative industries world-leading. Unfortunately there is very little in this white paper which will give creative businesses and freelancers in the UK any confidence for the future.

Today’s white paper focuses on curbing immigration rather than on making it possible for businesses and our economy to succeed. It sends a message to the world that the UK is no longer an open and welcoming place to come and live and work, and no longer a place where it is attractive to invest or do business.

Proposals to maintain the salary threshold, as well as the failure to include any measures to address the challenges faced by freelancers, are hugely disappointing. It demonstrates government’s blindness to the major strains that Brexit and the current immigration system will have on organisations’ ability to recruit the talent they need.

There will need to be considerable changes to these proposals if government are to ensure sectors such as the creative industries continue to thrive post-Brexit. This must be combined with an agreement with the EU which goes much further to ensure the ease of movement of talent. We will continue to gather data and case studies from the creative industries in order to advocate to government the reasons why this system must change, and what a fit-for-purpose visa system might look like.”

The Creative Industries Federation has made it clear that the current salary threshold of £30,000 is too blunt an instrument, and not fit for purpose if applied to EU permanent workers. We will be working with industry and with government during the consultation period to emphasise the need for flexibility for sectors such as the creative industries where high skills do not always command a high salary.

Furthermore, government has failed to recognise the challenges freelancers face within the current immigration system - a significant challenge for the creative industries federation where 35% of creative workers are self-employed. Freedom of movement has given British businesses access to the best and brightest freelancers from the EU, presenting those businesses with opportunities to grow and contribute to the continuing health of the UK economy. For international non-EEA freelancers however, the current immigration system provides no long-term route. This is why the Federation has called for the introduction of a freelance visa.

The white paper does include some proposals welcomed by the Creative Industries Federation:

  • The permanent workers route will be extended to workers with medium skills, the cap will be removed, the resident labour market test abolished, and government will look to make the sponsorship system light touch and low cost.

  • We also welcome the government’s commitment to streamline its processes using the latest technologies.

We will be analysing the proposal to introduce a route for temporary short-term workers of all skill levels. However, this appears to be highly restrictive and only a time limited measure.

Practical Support for the Creative Industries

We know that the issue of immigration is of vital importance to the creative industries. In order to support our members, we have organised the following initiatives to assist those making the required legal changes needed to prepare for Brexit and the unfolding immigration challenges:

BWB workshop: Preparing for the new immigration system

For our members, we are collaborating with Bates Wells Braithwaite on a workshop which will offer practical advice and support to creative enterprises and entrepreneurs on the forthcoming changes to immigration law.

This workshop will equip members to address required legal changes to their business ahead of March 2019, when the UK leaves the EU, and the introduction of changes to the UK’s immigration system on 1st January 2021 Members are encouraged to come prepared with live examples of concerns which immigration lawyers will give anonymised advice on within a creative industries peer group. This workshop will be particularly relevant to those leading on human resources and immigration law within your organisation and freelancers.

Date: Monday 4th February 2019

Times: 5pm to 8pm

Venue: Bates Wells Braithwaite, 10 Queen Place, London EC4R 1BE

Members can book their space by getting in touch with Hari Prabu, Policy and Events Officer

Home Office webinar: EU Settlement Scheme

From 29 March 2019, the UK will no longer be a member of the European Union, with implications for the estimated 3.8 million EU citizens living here in the UK. Government is in the process of rolling out an EU Settlement Scheme which will allow EU citizens and their family members to continue to live, work and study in the UK as they do now. The EU Settlement Scheme will be rolled out in the case of a Deal or No-Deal Scenario. Many creative industries employers will want to ensure that their EU workers are informed about the scheme and to help them apply.

For our wider network, we are organising a webinar with the Home Office at the end of January 2019. This will be an opportunity for those creative industries employers, organisations and trade bodies who require a comprehensive understanding of the scheme to hear more about the EU Settlement Scheme and to ask questions directly of the Home Office.

The webinar is open to:

  • Members of the Federation

  • Non-Members of the Federation, who are members of a trade body which is a Federation member

To take part please register your interest with Hari Prabu, Policy and Events Officer More information will be shared about the webinar early in the new year.

Tier 2 Visa Survey

Government has announced its intention post-Brexit to introduce a single, world immigration system which does not give priority to EU citizens or specific sectors and is focused on skills. The government also announced its support for the Tier 2 Salary Threshold of £30,000 which it said would favour higher skilled migrants.

It is important that the system takes into account specific characteristics of UK industries. For this reason, we want to gather information from the creative industries in order to feed back to government what a fit-for-purpose system may look like. This builds on existing evidence we gathered from you in the past and which informed our Global Talent Report.

This survey contains some technical questions. We would therefore encourage respondents from organisations to be those with some knowledge of immigration policies and these policies’ likely impact on their organisations. Click here for the survey.

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