UK Employers Get Ominous on New Immigration Rules

British businesses worry that keeping 'low-skilled' workers out will adversely affect various industries
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 19, 2020 12:34 PM CST
With New UK Immigration Rules, a Fear of Rotting Food
In this file dated Thursday, British lawmaker Priti Patel leaves 10 Downing Street in London.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, FILE)

Vegetables rotting in the fields, food going unprocessed, the elderly and disabled left without care. That's the alarming picture painted by some British employers about the impact of new UK immigration rules set to be introduced in less than a year, per the AP. Farms, food factories, and care homes said Wednesday that they'll face severe labor shortages under the government's plans to open Britain to skilled and educated immigrants while shutting out those it deems "low-skilled" workers and most of the self-employed. The message from Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservative government was blunt. "Employers will need to adjust. ... We need to shift the focus of our economy away from a reliance on cheap labor from Europe and instead concentrate on investment in technology and automation," the government said in a paper laying out its immigration plans.

Britain's exit from the EU last month is triggering the biggest change to the country's immigration rules for decades. Starting next year, most people hoping to move long term to Britain will need to speak English to a "required level" and have the offer of a job paying at least $33,000 a year. Prospective immigrants who earn less may still be able to come if they have other skills or work in an area where there are shortages, such as health care. The new rules don't cover refugees or asylum-seekers, and there will be separate routes for students and highly talented scientists, artists, and athletes. The proposals mean a radical change for sectors of the UK economy that rely heavily on EU workers. The government claims the new rules will reduce net immigration from its current level of more than 200,000 people a year, though it’s unclear whether the numbers really will fall. More from the AP here.

(Read more United Kingdom stories.)

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