Exclusive: Retailers call for simplification of the points-based immigration system after Brexit

 
Helen Cahill
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The government is forming a new immigration policy (Source: Getty)

The retail industry has called for a simplification of the UK's points-based immigration system after Brexit.

In a submission to the government's review of immigration, which is being conducted by the Migration Advisory Committee, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) said the new system should be "quicker, simpler and less expensive" than the current points-based system for non-EU workers.

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The new immigration system should also allow employees to travel for business purposes without having to obtain a work permit, or a visa, the BRC said.

The government is conducting a consultation on the immigration system ahead of an Immigration Bill, which is due later this year, although it has delayed a white paper outlining its plans.

"Brexit presents an opportunity to design a new, sustainable immigration system that recognises the changing nature of retail, and has the confidence of the general public," the BRC said.

"To make the most of this opportunity, we need a system that recognises the workforce needs of the industry, at all skill levels, while at the same time working in partnership with industry to equip the domestic labour market with the skills of the future."

The BRC has also called for a "demand-led" immigration system for nationals from the European Economic Area after Brexit.

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The group said the government should set up a system that avoids complex processes, and allows retailers to recruit staff quickly, and at a minimal cost to the business.

The trade body said it was difficult to recruit from UK domestic market due to the cost of employment, and the availability of willing workers, given that unemployment is at 4.3 per cent.

Employment costs are rising due to the national living wage, rising pension contributions and the cost of the apprenticeship levy.

Meanwhile, the cost of technology is falling, meaning retailers expect the number of jobs to fall overall, but that there will be more high-skilled roles for workers.