Commenting on the ONS quarterly migration figures, Jane Gratton, Head of Business Environment and Skills at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC), said:
“These figures are nothing to celebrate, and given businesses are facing record skills gaps at every level it’s disappointing to see the decline in people from Europe coming here to work. Despite valiant efforts to recruit at home, plus heavy investment in training, employers still need great people to fill job vacancies where there are local shortages.
“As the UK leaves the European Union, our government should be shouting from the rooftops about its desire to keep attracting talented people from the Continent and beyond who want to live and work in one of the world’s most dynamic economies.
“Businesses don’t want to hear silly gimmicks like UK-only passport queues at the border – which deliver no benefits and make the UK seem unwelcoming and closed-minded. Instead, firms need absolute clarity on what the UK immigration system will look like, when new rules will take effect, and whether government has the courage to take a scythe to the Kafkaesque bureaucracy of the Home Office.
“The Immigration White Paper must provide clear answers for business – and fast”