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RIBA warns against post-Brexit immigration salary threshold

Shutterstock architects in office1

The RIBA has branded a key post-Brexit migration policy report, which includes a minimum salary requirement for those seeking to work in the UK, as ‘extremely worrying’ for the architecture sector

It said the Migration Advisory Committee’s recommendation to end free movement into the UK from the EU would lead to a decrease in design skill levels and an increase in red tape.

The committee’s government-commissioned report, published this week, said there were no ‘compelling reasons’ for special treatment of European workers.

Individuals coming from the European Economic Area through the Tier 2 (general) route should only be granted UK work visas for jobs paying at least £30,000 per year, and the visas should cost employers £1,000 each, the report said. 

RIBA chief executive Alan Vallance warned there would be ‘profound implications for architecture’ if the government accepted the report’s recommendations.

‘One in five architects working in the UK is from the EU and it is crucial to create a post-Brexit immigration system that helps protect the workforce and addresses long-standing problems,’ he said.

‘It is disappointing that the committee has recommended introducing a £1,000 immigration skills charge to employ EU nationals and that it has not moved on the onerous salary threshold. Both of these measures will hit smaller practices the hardest.

‘RIBA’s research shows that the current administrative burden on people and practices is unacceptable – a situation where that gets worse is extremely worrying.’

The institute said it would shortly publish new research and further recommendations for a post-Brexit immigration system that works for architecture.

Intra-company transfer rules, which allow businesses to send people to the UK from overseas branches, would be unaffected under the report’s proposals.

Committee chair Alan Manning said: ‘There is no way to change the migration system without creating winners and losers. But we believe the UK should focus on enabling higher-skilled migration coupled with a more restrictive policy on lower-skilled migration in the design of its post-Brexit system.’

RIBA president Ben Derbyshire last month said the government’s back-up plans for a ‘no deal’ Brexit had fuelled fears about the risks to the architecture profession.

Architects have this week raised fears that a loss of diversity will lead to ‘boring conversations and dull design’ after the ARB recorded a 42 per cent fall in registrations from non-British EU architects since the Brexit vote.


Readers' comments (5)

  • John Kellett

    I find the statement “Architects have this week raised fears that a loss of diversity will lead to ‘boring conversations and dull design’ after the ARB recorded a 42 per cent fall in registrations from non-British EU architects since the Brexit vote “ insulting. Have they even looked for British staff? We are the best trained in the World for our market :-)

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  • Industry Professional

    In my experience the £1000 figure is more like £3000 for the application (£1500 for application support, £500 migrant health surcharge, £1000 application fee) and plus having to pay additional immigration skills surcharge each year. What would come out of it? Inability of small firms to hire architects from abroad? A shift of work to making more money to cover the costs rather than obsession with design?

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  • Chris Roche

    Is it just me of is there a potential conflict between the RIBA's desire to attract European Architects to the UK with the promise of a salary below £30K and their Modern Slavery Statement, which states:

    The RIBA is absolutely committed to improving its practices to combat modern slavery and human trafficking. This statement sets out the RIBA’s actions to understand all potential modern slavery risks related to its business and to ensure that there is no slavery or human trafficking in its businesses or supply chains. This statement relates to actions and activities during the financial year ending 31st March 2019.

    Irony, satire, or cynicism - you choose? However it has been clear for years that UK educated architects - British, European, and International have faced a downward spiral of salaries and opportunities as a result of the unsustainable numbers of architects in the UK.
    Hopefully both UK and European Architects will continue to have equal
    opportunity to work in the UK post -brexit, and at some point the RIBA will see the light, through the other end of the telescope and campaign for higher salaries for all, rather than complain European talent will become too expensive if the EEC introduce a minimum salary threshold.

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  • Getting clients to pay much more for architectural services is clearly a good longer term, if not readily achievable objective, but meanwhile architects need to lobby their MPs along the lines the RIBA recommends to avoid short term disruption, particularly to smaller practices.

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  • Industry Professional

    Not sure what the shop steward at the RIBA is up to: What do we want - less than £30K pay; when do we want it - backdated. Fairly useless Union!

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