More than one year after Britain’s referendum vote, the Home Secretary has ordered a comprehensive analysis of EU migrants in Britain which will examine economic and social contributions and costs.
Amber Rudd has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee to carry out the investigation and pledges that a cliff-edge scenario will be avoided.
The study is expected to be finished next September just seven months before the UK’s formal exit from the EU in March 2019.
In a letter to the home Secretary MAC chairman, professor Alan Manning, welcomes taking on such an “important and extensive commission”.
“The MAC welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the UK’s knowledge base in this area, at this critical time,” says the letter.
“As the work progresses, the MAC will consider the possibility of producing interim responses to the government.
“The MAC look forward to engaging with colleagues in government, business and elsewhere to produce a high-quality, evidenced-response to this commission.”
During Rudd’s announcement of the study, she said Britain is seeking an agreement which will continue the free movement of people and make sure there would be no cliff-edge for EU workers living in Britain or their employers.
Writing in the Financial Times, she describes how business leaders and employers across a range of sectors have spoken to her about the value of European citizens for labour, skills and ideas.
“I want to reassure all those who have outlined their views, either privately or publicly, that the government is listening and that we share their desire to continue to welcome those who help make the UK such a prosperous place to live,” Rudd writes.
“In order to do so, we must make sure we have the most accurate picture possible of the extent to which the UK economy uses EU labour.
“This will ensure we can build an industrial strategy that addresses long-term challenges to the UK economy.”
The MAC has been asked to investigate which sectors are most reliant on EU labour; how reducing migration will impact upon business and the government as well as how both can adjust to this; discover if there is any evidence that the availability of unskilled labour has led to low investment in specific sectors and whether there are advantages of focusing migrant labour on high-skilled jobs.
Rudd adds how the committee will begin its work very shortly.
“This will be a chance for businesses and employers to express their honest opinions, independently of the government,” she continues.
“It is critically important the views of each industry are reflected accurately in this evidence, so I would encourage industry representatives to get involved in the
“I also want to reassure businesses and EU nationals that we will ensure there is no “cliff edge” once we leave the bloc.”
Ever since last June’s referendum result, the UK agricultural industry, and in particular the soft fruits sector, has been voicing its concerns over what Britain leaving the EU will mean for a labour force that has historically been made up of EU migrants.
Over the years, seasonal workers from all over Europe live and work in the UK fruit picking and working on farms during busy harvesting periods.
The National Farmers’ Union and industry professionals fear for the future of British agricultural unless an agreement is reached allowing EU nationals to continue to work on UK farms.