The Office of National Statistics confirmed on Wednesday 25 May 2017 that net migration in the UK has fallen by 84,000 to 248,000 in 2016 in comparison to 2015’s figures.
It is believed that 117,000 EU nationals emigrated out of the UK in 2016, with a decrease of 43,000 EU migrants immigrating to the UK, in comparison to 2015’s figures.
The primary reason for the sudden fall in migration figures could be associated with Brexit, and the uncertainty this creates for EU nationals. Without a guarantee that EU nationals can move to the UK on a permanent basis, they are likely to be dissuaded from moving to the UK when they could immigrate elsewhere in Europe with certainty over their right to reside in the future.
In 2010 the Conservative party pledged to reduce net migration to “the tens of thousands”. This was repeated in Theresa May’s Conservative manifesto published earlier in May 2017. We can assume that if the Conservatives win the upcoming election, further steps may be put in place that either discourage individuals from migrating to the UK, or encourage non-UK nationals to emigrate out of the UK.
What does this mean for businesses?
Businesses are likely to be directly affected by the fall in net migration figures. With a smaller European workforce, companies will have to rely on UK nationals or those from outside the EU.
We are, therefore, likely to see a rise in businesses applying for Sponsor Licences with the Home Office in an attempt to attract highly skilled non-UK/EU individuals by sponsoring them under a Tier 2 work visa.
To remain competitive in the ever changing corporate market, businesses should consider supporting their EU national employees by offering assistance with Permanent Residence applications, where applicable, or look to apply for a Sponsor Licence to ensure they can continue to hire the most skilled individuals for their businesses.