Report calls for immigration strategy that provides business-friendly support for the financial services industry
New report by TheCityUK and Ernst & Young examines UK post-Brexit immigration policy and international trade agreements
15 September 2020
TheCityUK and Ernst & Young LLP (EY) last week released a new report on the UK's international trade agreements and business immigration policy after Brexit. TheCityUK is the industry-led body representing UK-based financial and related professional services.
You can read the 64-page report here.
The report notes that over 2.3 million people in the UK are employed in financial and related professional services, and it says the UK's capacity to attract global talent is one of the major drivers of its position as a world-leading financial hub.
The report states: "The UK's success in financial services is underpinned by its unequalled pool of talent and expertise. People from all corners of the world come here to work in a dynamic global market and learn alongside some of the most renowned industry practitioners. Over 12% of the banking and finance workforce in the UK as a whole are from the EU and the rest of the world. In London, this figure is even more stark, with over 28% of the workforce from the EU and the rest of the world (rising to 42% in FinTech). Many of these employees are engaged in highly skilled roles. The financial and related professional services industry is already defined by a higher than average presence of highly skilled roles, with 60% of the workforce in roles that require a high level of skill, compared to 45% across the wider UK economy."
TheCityUK and EY urge the Government to use the same speed, innovation and determination shown on domestic immigration policy during the early stages of Covid-19 to ensure the UK's new immigration system is agile enough to support the development of business-friendly free trade agreements post-Brexit.
The report says: "Immigration brings productive skilled individuals to the UK who contribute billions in taxes which fund vital services across Britain. It continues to impact geopolitics as much as it is impacted by it. Immigration changes that will flow from the UK's departure from the EU are complex for the industry, with new rules, timelines and costs to navigate on immigration permissions and processes and permitted activities for business travellers. In addition, Covid-19 has meant that for the first half of 2020, 90% of the world's population has been living in countries with travel restrictions in place. The ability to move talent across borders is no longer just a question of immigration permission. Other questions include: are transport routes safe? Will borders open at the point of departure still be open at the point of arrival? Will the epidemiological situation allow exit or will employees become dislocated? What health certification may be required? What level of data must be given? What personal restrictions will be mandated on arrival or return? Are we at a point of significant inflection around how and where we work, and freedom of movement has taken on an acutely personal meaning for all."
TheCityUK and EY make six recommendations in the report, which they say will help direct the UK's international trade policymaking towards an operationally achievable immigration strategy that provides business-friendly support for the financial and related professional services industry and the wider economy.
Miles Celic, Chief Executive Officer of TheCityUK, said: "The recommendations in this report will allow the UK to seize the opportunity to use its new, independent trade and investment policy to build a more attractive, innovative, and truly international UK economy. The government's success in finding solutions to support international workers stranded by Covid-19 has shown how effective and agile the UK's immigration system can be. Our recommendations seek to build on that agility and to improve the interaction between trade agreements and the practical implementation of migration policy. Putting effective measures in place now will have a long-lasting impact on the UK's standing in the world."