Tuesday 14 September 2021 9:58 am

Mayor calls for emergency visas to solve London labour shortage

Sadiq Khan will call on the Government to introduce a ‘Covid Recovery Visa’ to address chronic labour shortages in a speech later today.

The capital’s businesses are suffering from a chronic labour shortage following new immigration rules and a number of EU nationals returning to their home countries.

Khan, the Mayor of London, will say that the Government must introduce a temporary, time-limited visa to “help attracted international workers into key roles to support our economic recovery.”

“London has unique needs when it comes to attracting workers from around the world – and so a more tailored, dynamic approach is urgently required,” he will say at a Bloomberg event in the City this afternoon.

Vacancies have hit a record high in the last three months as firms attempt to keep up with the UK’s economic recovery.

But many businesses are reporting being unable to fill those roles in the existing labour market.

The Mayor believes that the shortage occupation list – which operates as an emergency visa scheme and is maintained by central Government – has not responded to the desperate need for staff in sectors including hospitality, construction and haulage.

He will ask Government to build a regional shortage occupation list for London and other cities that allow those areas, the engines of both local and national growth, to respond to local circumstances.

The labour shortage has been exacerbated by the furlough scheme, due to finish at the end of September.

But economists are unsure the return of furloughed workers to the jobs market, the number of whom has fallen significantly over recent months, will make much of a difference.

“With Brexit and Covid driving a more deep-seated decline in labour supply, the end of furlough is unlikely to be a silver bullet to the ongoing shortages,” said the British Chambers of Commerce’s Head of Economics Suren Thiru in response to the vacancy figures released this morning.

“These recruitment difficulties are likely to dampen the recovery by limiting firms’ ability to fulfil orders and meet customer demand,” he continued.

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