Leading figures, including RIBA’s Jane Duncan, have criticised the Conservative Party’s pledge to double the Immigration Skills Charge paid by businesses employing non-EU skilled migrant workers
The promise, published in the party’s manifesto yesterday (18 May), means that medium and large practices would have to pay £2,000 per year for each non-EU skilled foreign national they employ. Small practices would be forced to pay £728.
The contentious move would effectively double the Immigration Skills Charge and has been widely criticised by the profession.
RIBA President Jane Duncan said: ’Increasing the burden for practices to recruit these talented architects from outside the EU is a concern particularly for our innovative emerging practices.’
’We must ensure that we can continue to retain existing talent and attract the brightest and the best skills from across the globe in the future,’ she added.
The government introduced the Immigration Skills Charge in April, requiring medium and large companies to pay a £1,000 annual fee for non-EU skilled workers.
Peter Murray, chair of New London Architecture, described the Tory pledge as ‘barmy’.
’It seems to ignore the massive contribution that architecture makes to the capital’s economy and the fact that it’s success is founded on its diversity and the profession’s ability to work around the world,’ he said.
‘We need to encourage overseas talent to work in London not penalise it’
’I am all for funding training and skills but we need to encourage overseas talent to work in London not penalise it.’
Murray added that, because ’Londoners understand the contribution immigration makes to the economy’, the city should have ’separate arrangements under a regionally managed migration system’.
The Conservative Party manifesto states that the £2,000 per year levy will be used to ’invest in higher level skills training for workers in the UK’.
Félicie Krikler, director at Assael Architecture, said the Conservative pledge could have a ’detrimental effect on architectural practices and the wider British economy’.
’To be a truly global economy that boasts some of the most innovative and vibrant creative industries, the UK needs to be able to attract the brightest and best from all over the world,’ she said.
’Punishing architects for hiring skilled labour from outside the EU will have a negative effect on innovation in the field and will prevent the sharing of ideas […]This is not the time to look inward.’
In the manifesto, the party pledges to reduce annual net migration, currently at 273,000, to the ’tens of thousands, rather than the hundreds of thousands we have seen over the last two decades’.
It also promises to ’secure the entitlements of EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU’, which will come as relief to many practices.
Earlier this week, leading architects including Richard Rogers, David Chipperfield and Amanda Levete urged the government to clarify its position on EU nationals living in the UK, warning that Brexit will have ‘deeply negative consequences’ for the profession.