CBI criticises migrant cap

EMPLOYERS’ group the CBI has thrown its weight behind Vince Cable, the business secretary, by warning that government plans to cap non-EU immigration could hamper the economic recovery.

The government is consulting on plans to introduce a permanent cap next spring, and has put a temporary limit in place until then. Home secretary Theresa May has limited the number of non-EU migrant workers to 24,100 between now and April.

But the CBI will today say that the interim arrangements, which have been put in place to prevent a spike in applications ahead of the permanent cap, have been “poorly managed”.

John Cridland, CBI deputy director general, said: “The system is proving a real headache for firms trying to keep on valued members of staff, or recruit specialists from overseas.

“These problems are undermining confidence that the permanent cap will work. The migration system must support, not hamper growth.”

The CBI will call on the government to prioritise skilled workers that have been offered a job. It will also say multi-national firms must be able to move their staff around freely using intra-company transfers (ICTs).

Cable is leading the fight against the policy in cabinet, and has warned that the cap could “damage” the company, a claim refuted by Downing Street and the Home Office.

Yesterday he told City A.M.: “The argument is still being made, and we’re dealing with it constructively with the Home Secretary. Obviously we’ll listen to what the CBI has to say.” Other cabinet ministers, including schools secretary Michael Gove and justice secretary Ken Clarke, are sympathetic to his point of view.

An aide to home secretary Theresa May said: “We understand we need to bring the best and brightest here, but we also have a policy to bring down overall net immigration, and that’s what we’ll do.”