CBI urges Government to scrap immigration targets after Brexit

Net migration targets should be scrapped after Brexit, the Confederation of British Industry says.

Targets should be replaced with a system that ensures people coming to the UK make a positive contribution to the economy, the business group said.

Schools and hospitals should receive extra funding where demand is increased by immigration, the CBI added.

But the Home Office said it was committed to bringing net migration down to “tens of thousands”.

The contribution of EU workers to the UK economy was “profoundly important and will be needed in the future”, after the free movement of EU citizens comes to an end as part of Brexit, the CBI said.

It said EU citizens should be registered on arrival to the UK and restrict their visit to three months “unless they can prove that they are working, studying or are self-sufficient”.

It would be “entirely unworkable” to move EU nationals into the existing non-EU immigration system, which the CBI described as “highly complex, time-consuming and expensive, particularly for small businesses”.

The CBI said immigration had been shown time and again to bring net economic benefits to the UK, yet people had legitimate concerns about the pressures immigration could have on public services and society.

The answer was to shift away from numbers and instead to focus on who could benefit the UK. This need not just be high earners, but anyone who could contribute.

There is an impetus to overhaul UK immigration policy after Brexit to make sure the system allows skilled people to come into the country from around the world, the CBI said.

“The stakes are high. Get it wrong, and the UK risks having too few people to run the health service, pick food crops or deliver products to stores around the country,” it added.

“We also risk harming our future as a global innovation hub, rooted in our longstanding ability to attract talented people the world over.”